Skip to main content

Full text of "Spirit slate writing and kindred phenomena"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on Hbrary shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 

to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 

to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 

are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other maiginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 

publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we liave taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 
We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain fivm automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attributionTht GoogXt "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liabili^ can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/| 














Assistant to the late Herrmann 




New York City 


- ^  ^^- <  1- — 5 — -T r — " 





Copyrighted, 1898, by Munn & Company. 
All rights reserved. 


The author of the present volume is not an 
opponent of spiritualism — on the contrary, he was 
brought up from childhood in this belief; and 
though, at the present writing, he does not acknowl- 
edge the truth of its teachings, nevertheless he 
respects the feelings of those who are honest in their 
convictions. At the same time he confidently be- 
lieves that all rational persons, spiritualists as well 
as others, will heartily indorse this endeavor to 
explain the methods of those who, under the mask 
of mediumship, and possessing all the artifices of the 
charlatan, victimize those seeking knowledge of 
their loved ones who have passed away. As a great 
New York lawyer once said, it was not spiritualism 
he was fighting, but fraud under the guise of spirit- 

Owing to the fact that the author has for many 
years been engaged in the practice of the profession 
of magic, both as a prestidigitateur and designer of 
stage illusions for the late Alexander Herrmann, and 
has also been associated with Prof. Kellar, he feels 


that he is fitted to treat of clever tricks used by 
mediums. He has attended hundreds of seances 
both at home and abroad, and the present volume 
is the fruit of his studies. 

Some of the means of working these slate tests 
may appear simple and impossible of deceiving, but 
in the hands of the medium they are entirely suc- 
cessful. It should be remembered it is not so much 
the apparatus employed as it is the shrewd, cun- 
ning, ever-observing sharper using it. The devices 
and methods employed by slate writing frauds seem 
innumerable. No sooner are they caught and ex- 
posed while employing one system than they im- 
mediately set their wits to work and evolve an 
entirely different idea. It is almost impossible at 
the first sitting with a slate writing medium to know 
what method he will employ, and should you, after 
the sitting, go away with the idea that you have 
discovered his method of operation and come a 
second time ready to expose him, you may be sadly 
disappointed, for the medium will undoubtedly lead 
you to believe he is going to use his former method, 
and so mislead you. He accomplishes his test by 
another method, while you are on the lookout for 
something entirely different. The great success of 
the medium is in disarming the suspicions of the 
skeptic, and at that very moment the trick is done. 
Slate writing is of course the great standby of 


mediums, but there are many other tricks which 
they employ which are described in the present 

The publishers have added a chapter on '* Miscel- 
laneous Tricks " which may serve as a supplement to 
their "Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Diver- 
sions, Including Trick Photography/* which has 
already obtained an enviable position in the litera- 
ture of magic, and has been even translated into 
Swedish. These tricks are by Mr. W. B. Caulk and 
the author. 

New York, November, 1898. 


Chapter I. 


The Single Slate , 3 

Chapter II. 
The Double Slate 32 

Chapter III. 
Miscellaneous Slate Tests 41 

Chapter IV. 
Mind Reading and Kindred Phenomena 51 

Chapter V. 
Table Lifting and Spirit Rapping 71 

Chapter VI. 
Spiritualistic Ties . . . .' 82 

Chapter VII. 
Post Tests, Handcuffs, Spirit Collars, etc 93 

Chapter VIII. 
Seances and Miscellaneous Spirit Tricks loi 

Chapter IX. 
Miscellaneous Tricks 115 




The Single Slate. 

There has probably been nothing that has made 
more converts to spiritualism than the much talked 
of ** Slate Writing Test/' and if we are to believe 
some of the stories told of the writings mysteriously 
obtained on slates, under what is known as '* severe 
test conditions,'* that preclude, beyond any possible 
doubt, any form of deception or trickery, one would 
think that the day of miracles had certainly returned ; 
but we must not believe half we hear nor all that we 
see, for the chances are that just as you are about to 
attribute some unaccountable spirit phenomena to 
an unseen power, something turns up to show that 
you have been tricked by a clever device which is 
absurd in its simplicity. 

There are a large number of methods of produc- 
ing slate writing, but the writer will describe a few 
which will be sufficient to give an idea of the work- 
ing of slate tests in general. First we have the 
ordinary one in which the writing is placed on the 
slate beforehand, and then hidden from view by a 


flap or loose piece of slate. (Fig. i.) After both 
sides of the slate have been cleaned, the false flap is 
dropped on the table, the side which is then upper- 
most being covered with cloth similar to the table 
lop, where it will remain unnoticed, or the flap is 
allowed to (all into a second slate with which the 
first is covered. In the latter case no cloth is pasted 
on the flap. Sometimes the flap is covered with 

Fig, I.— Ordinary Slate with Flap. 

a piece of newspaper and is allowed to drop into a 
newspaper lying on the table, then the newspaper 
containing the flap is carelessly removed, thus doing 
away with any trace ol trickery. 

Another way of utilizing the false flap is as fol- 
lows: The writing is not placed beforehand on the 
slate, but on the flap, which, as before, is covered 
with the same material as the table top. This is 


lying on the table writing downward. The slate is 
handed around for inspection, and, on being re- 
turned to the performer, he stands at the table and 
cleans the slate on one side, then turns it over and 
cleans the other. As he does so he lifts the flfip into 
the slate. The flap is; held in firmly by an edging of 
thin pure sheet rubber cemented on the flap between 
the slate and the cloth covering of the slate. This 
grips the wooden sides of the frame hard enough 
to prevent the false piece from tumbling out acci- 

We now come to another style, wherein a slate is 
cleaned on both sides, and, while held in the hand 
facing the audience, becomes suddenly covered with 
writing, and the slate is immediately given for in- 
spection. The writing is on the slate previous to 
the cleaning, and is hidden from view by a flap of 
slate colored silk, held firmly in place by a pellet of 
wax in each of the corners of the silk. Attached to 
this silk flap or covering (at the end that is nearest 
to the performer's sleeve) is a stout cord or string,, 
which is also made fast to a strap around the wrist 
of the hand opposite to that holding the slate. If 
the arms are now extended their full length, the 
piece of silk covering will leave the slate and pass 
rapidly up the sleeve out of the way, and thus leave 
the writing exposed to view. (Fig. 2.) The slate is 
found to be still a little damp from the cleaning with 
the sponge and water it had been given previously. 
This is easily accounted for. The water from the 
sponge penetrates just enough through the cloth to 
dampen the slate. 

There is still another slate on which we can make 


the writing appear suddenly. It is composed of a 
wooden frame, such as all wooden-edged slates have, 

Fig. 2.— Removing the Silk from the Face of the Slate. 

but the slate itself is a sham. It is a piece of cloth 
painted with a kind of paint known as liquid, or sili- 
cate slating, which, when dry and hard, is similar to 


the real article. This cloth is twice the length of 
the slate and just the exact width. The two ends of 
the cloth are united with cement, so as to make an 
endless piece or loop. There is a small rod or roller 
in both the top and bottom pieces of the frame, the 
ends being made hollow to receive theni. Over 
these rollers runs the cloth, stretched firmly and 
tightly. Just where the cloth is joined or cemented 
is a little black button, or stud of hard rubber or 
leather. This allows the cloth to be pushed up and 
down, bringing the back to the front ; and by doing 
so quickly, the writing which is written on the cloth 
at the rear of the frame is made to come to the front 
in plain view. (Fig. 3.) 

Still another idea in a 
single slate is as follows : 
An ordinary looking slate 
is given out for examina- 
tion, and, on its being re- 
turned to the medium, he 
takes his handkerchief and 
cleans or brushes both sides 
of the slate with it ; and, 
upon again showing that 
sideof the slate first cleaned, 
it is found covered with 
writing apparently done 
with chalk. The following 
is the simple explanation 
of it: Take a small camel's 
hair brush and dip it in 
urine or onion juice, and with it write or trace on 
the slate whatever you desire, and when it becomes 

Fig. 3.— The Kndless 
Band Silicate Trick 


dry, or nearly so, the slate can be given for examina- 
tion without fear of detection. The handkerchief 
the performer uses to clean the slate with is lightly 
sprinkled with powdered chalk. He makes believe to 
clean the one side devoid of preparation, but the side 
containing the invisible writing is gently rubbed 
with the handkerchief, not too hard just enough to 
let the powdered chalk fall on the urine or onion 
juice, where it leaves a mark not unlike a chalk mark. 
It will not be out of place to describe a trick by 
which writing is produced upon an ordinary china 
plate by a somewhat similar means. The plate is 
examined and cleaned with a borrowed handker- 
chief, and then the performer requests the loan of a 
pinch of snuflf, or uses a little sand or dust, which he 
places on the plate. He now commences to move 
the plate around in circles, and while doing so the 
shufif or sand is seen to gradually form itself into 
writing. The explanation is simple — whatever writ- 
ing you desire to appear on the plate is placed be- 
forehand on it. It is done with a camel's hair brush 
dipped in the white of an egg and allowed to become 
dry before being handed around for inspection. As 
the performer cleans the plate he breathes on both 
sides of it, as if to give it moisture enough to help 
take off any dirt that might be thereon when rubbed 
with the handkerchief. In breathing on the front of 
the plate containing the writing done with the white 
of the egg, he moistens the writing enough to make 
the snuff or sand, as the case may be, adhere to it. 
Of course, in cleaning the front of the plate, care 
must be taken not to brush or disturb the invisible 


It may not be amiss to also mention another method 
of producing writing, employed by mediums to ob- 
tain a message on a blank piece of paper which has 
been placed between two slates, which are held by 
the medium in his hand, high above his head, and, on 
afterwards taking the slate apart, the paper is cov- 
ered with writing. This again calls into use the 
extra or false flap. (Fig. i ) A piece of paper 
with writing on it is placed face downward on one 
of the slates and covered with the false flap. It 
then looks like an ordinary slate. On this is placed 
the plain piece of paper, and over this is laid the 
second slate. The slates are now held up in plain 
view of the audience, and on being lowered to the 
table they are turned over, thus bringing the blank 
piece of paper under the false flap and the one with 
the writing on it on the top of the flap, which has 
fallen from the slate, which is now the top, but origi- 
nally the bottom one, on or into the under one, and, 
of course, on the removal of the present top slate, 
the writing is found on what is supposed to be the 
original blank paper. 

If the paper is to have a private mark put on it by 
an observer, so as to prove the writing really does 
appear on that identical piece of paper, the operation 
is varied as follows: The false flap is done away 
with, and the paper, which is furnished by the 
medium, has written on it the desired communica- 
tion with ink, which is made visible and brought out 
black by means of heat. For the invisible ink you 
can use sulphuric acid, very much diluted, so as not 
to destroy the paper. The necessary heat is obtained 
in the following manner : The table (Fig. 4) on which 



the slates are resting is hollow, and has concealed in 
it a spirit lamp filled with alcohol. This lamp sits 
directly under a trap in the table top, which is cov- 
ered underneath for safety with sheet iron, so it will 

Fig. 4. — False Table for Developing Communications 
Written with Sympathetic Ink. 

not catch fire. When the slates are placed on the 
table they are laid over the little trap door, which, 
in conjuring parlance, is known as a " trap." This is 
now opened, and the slates allowed to become well 
heated and the trap then closed, and the prepared 
paper, upon coming in contact with the hot slate, is 
thus covered with writing. 

Another medium employed a somewhat similar 


method, only the paper in this case was placed in a 
glass vial (Fig. 5) which had been lying on the iron 
trap door. The medium's hand covered the vial, 
which was corked and sealed, while the writing was 
making its appearance. You can also produce writ- 
ing on the paper in the vial without resorting to the 
use of heat by using a vial that has 
been washed out with ammonia 
and kept well corked, and writing 
on the paper with a weak solution 
of copper sulphate, which is in- 
visible until the paper is placed 
in the vial, when the two chemi 
cals produce writing in blue. Still 
another message is produced as 
follows : The writing is done with 

iron sulphate on blank cards. Of ^. ^, ^ . 

\. ., „, Fig. 5.— The Devel- 

course this is mvisible. These ^p^^^j ^f gpj^j 

cards are placed in envelopes and writing. 

sealed up. Upon opening the 

envelopes shortly afterward the cards are cov. 

ered with the writing which was before invisible, 

but is brought out by a solution of nut galls with 

which the inside of the envelopes had been slightly 


The subject of sympathetic inks is such an in- 
teresting one that we give thirty-seven formulas, 
which include all those which are liable to be used 
by the medium. 

The solutions used should be so nearly colorless 
that the writing cannot be seen till the agent is ap- 
plied to render it visible. Sympathetic inks are of 
three general classes. 


Inks that Appear through Heat, 

1. Write with a concentrated solution of causti': 
potash. The writing will appear when the paper 
is submitted to strong heat. 

2. Write with a solution of ammonium hydro- 
chlorate, in the proportion of 15 parts to 100. The 
writing will appear when the paper is heated by 
holding it over a stove or by passing a hot smooth- 
ing iron over it. 

3. A weak solution of copper nitrate gives an in- 
visible writing, which becomes red through heat. 

4. A very dilute solution of copper perchloride 
gives invisible characters that become yellow 
through heat. 

5. A slightly alcoholic solution of copper bromide 
gives perfectly invisible characters which are made 
apparent by a gentle heat, and which disappear 
again through cold. 

6. Write upon rose colored paper with a solution 
of cobalt chloride. The invisible writing will be- 
come blue through heat, and will disappear on cool- 

7. Write with a solution of sulphuric acid. The 
characters will appear in black through heat. This 
ink has the disadvantage of destroying the paper. 
(See the caution given on page 9.) 

8. Write with lemon, onion, leek, cabbage or arti- 
choke juice. Characters written with these juices 
become very visible when the paper is heated. 

9. Digest I oz. of zafifre, or cobalt oxide, at a 
gentle heat, with 4 oz. of nitro-muriatic acid till no 
more is dissolved, then add i oz. common salt and 


i6 oz. of water. If this be written with and the 
paper held to the fire, the writing becomes green, 
unless the cobalt should be quite pure, in which 
case it will be blue. The addition of a little iron 
nitrate will then impart the property of becoming 
green. It is used in chemical landscapes for the 

10. Put in a vial ^^ oz. of distilled water, i drm. 
of potassium bromide and i drm. of pure copper 
sulphate. The solution is nearly colorless, but be- 
comes brown when heated. 

11. Nickel nitrate and nickel chloride in weak 
solution form an invisible ink, which becomes green 
by heating when the salt contains traces of cobalt, 
which usually is the case ; when pure, it becomes 

12. When the solution of acetate of protoxide of 
cobalt contains nickel or iron, the writing made by 
it will become green when heated ; when it is pure 
and free from these metals, it becomes blue. 

1 3. Milk makes a good invisible ink, and buttermilk 
answers the purpose better. It will not show if 
written with a clean new pen, and ironing with a hot 
flat iron is the best way of showing it up. All in- 
visible inks will show on glazed paper; therefore 
unglazed paper should be used. 

14. Burn flax so that it may be rather smoldered 
than burned to ashes, then grind it with a muUer on 
a stone, putting a little alcohol to it, then mix it with 
a little gum water, and what you write, though it 
seem clear, may be rubbed or washed out. 

15. Boil cobalt oxide in acetic acid. If a little 
common salt be added, the writing becomes green 


when heated, but with potassium nitrate it becomes 
a pale rose color. 

i6. A weak solution of mercury nitrate becomes 
black by heat. 

Inks that Appear under the Influence of Light, 

17. Gold chloride serves for forming characters 
that appear only as long as the paper is exposed to 
daylight, say for an hour at least. 

18. Write with a solution made by dissolving one 
part of silver nitrate in 1,000 parts of distilled 
water. When submitted to daylight, the writing 
appears of a slate color or tawny brown. 

Inks Appearing through Reagents, 

19. If writing be done with a solution of lead 
acetate in distilled water, the characters will appear 
in black upon passing a solution of an alkaline sul- 
phide over the paper. 

20. Characters written with a very weak solution 
of gold chloride will become dark brown upon pass- 
ing a solution of tin perchloride over them. 

21. Characters written with a solution of gallic 
acid in water will become black through a solution 
of iron sulphate and brown through the alkalies. 

22. Upon writing on paper that contains but little 
sizing with a very clear solution of starch, and sub- 
mitting the dry characters to the vapor of iodine, 
or passing over them a weak solution of potassium 
iodide, the writing becomes blue, and disappears 
under the action of a solution of sodium hypo- 
sulphite in the proportions of i to 1,000. 


23. Characters written with a 10 per cent, solu- 
tion of nitrate of protoxide of mercury become black 
when the paper is moistened with liquid ammonia, 
and gray through heat. 

24. Characters written with a weak solution of the 
soluble platinum or iridium chloride become black 
when the paper is submitted to mercurial vapor. 
This ink may be used for marking linen. It is in- 

25. C. Widemann communicates a new method of 
making an invisible ink to Die Natur. To make the 
writing or the drawing appear which has been made 
upon paper with the ink, it is sufficient to dip it 
into water. On drying, the traces disappear again, 
and reappear by each succeeding immersion. The 
ink is made by intimately mixing linseed oil, i part ; 
water of ammonia, 20 parts ; water, 100 parts. The 
mixture must be agitated each time before the pen is 
dipped into it, as a little of the oil may separate and 
float on top, which would, of course, leave an oily 
stain upon the paper. 

26. Write with a solution of potassium ferro- 
cyanide, develop by pressing over the dry, in- 
visible characters a piece of blotting paper moist- 
ened with a solution of copper sulphate or of iron 

27. Write with pure dilute tincture of iron ; de- 
velop with a blotter moistened with strong tea. 

28. Writing with potassium iodide and starch be- 
comes blue by the least trace of acid vapors in the 
atmosphere or by the presence of ozone. To make 
it, boil starch, and add a small quantity of potassium 
iodide in solution. 


29. Copper sulphate in very dilute solution will 

produce an invisible writing, which will turn light 
blue by vapors of ammonia. 

30. Soluble compounds of antimony will become 
red by hydrogen sulphide vapor. 

31. Soluble compounds of arsenic and of tin per- 
oxide will become yellow by the same vapor. 

32. An acid solution of iron chloride is diluted 
till the writing is invisible when dry. This writing 
has the remarkable property of becoming red by 
sulphocyanide vapors (arising from the action of 
sulphuric acid on potassium sulphocyanide in a long 
necked flask), and it disappears by ammonia, and 
may alternately be made to appear and disappear by 
these two vapors. 

33. Writing executed with rice water is visible 
when dry, but the characters become blue by the 
application of iodine. This ink was much employed 
during the Indian mutiny. 

34. Write with a solution of paraffin in benzol. 
When the solvent has evaporated, the paraffin is in- 
visible, but becomes visible on being dusted with 
lampblack or powdered graphite, or smoking over a 
candle flame. 

35. To Write Black Characters with Water. — 
Mix 10 parts nutgalls, 2)^ parts calcined iron sul- 
phate. Dry thoroughly, and reduce to fine pow- 
der. Rub this powder over the surface of the paper^ 
and force into the pores by powerful pressure, brush 
oflf the loose powder. A pen dipped in water will 
write black on paper thus treated. 

. 36. To Write Blue Characters with Water.— Mix 
iron sesquisulphate and potassium ferrocyanide. 


Prepare the paper in the same manner as for writ- 
ing black characters with water. Write with water^ 
and the characters will appear blue. 

37. To Produce Brown Writing with Water. — 
Mix copper sulphate and potassium ferrocyanide. 
Prepare the paper in the same manner as before. 
The characters written with water will be reddish 

Here is another trick calling for the use of sympa- 
thetic ink. A medium suggests a number of questions 
to write on a paper, one of which you select and 
write on a slip of paper furnished by the medium. 
Writing is done with pen and ink. You are request- 
ed to dry it with a blotter, and not to remove the 
blotter for a time, the medium says, so as to keep the 
paper in the dark, thus giving the " spirits " better 
conditions under which to work. After a while the 
blotter is removed, and an answer to the question is 
found on the same paper. The questions suggested 
were all of such a character that one answer would 
nearly do for any one. The paper the question was 
written on had this answer written with invisible 
ink brought out by a reagent on the blotter, with 
which it was saturated, and thus another mystery is 
easily dispelled. 

We will now take up a few slate tests, in which 
the slates are brought or furnished by the spectator 
or investigator. The tests in which the slates are 
brought by skeptics and tied and sealed by them, 
and still writing is obtained upon them, are the ones 
that are the most convincing and most talked about,^ 
and they are offered to the unbeliever as proof abso- 
lute of spirit power. 


First we will beg^n with the single slate which 
has just been handed to the medium, after being 
thoroughly cleaned by the person bringing it. The 
skeptic holds one end of the slate in one hand and 
the medium the opposite end in one of his hands, and 
both persons clasp their disengaged hands. In a 
short time the slate is turned over and a few words 
written in a scrawling style are found. I must 
acknowledge that when I first witnessed this test it 
somewhat staggered me, but afterward, on seeing it 

Fig. 6.— Writing on the Slate with the Pencil 

the second time, I was enabled to fathom its mys- 
tery. It is patterned somewhat after the style claimed 
to have been used by Slade, wherein he used a piece 
of slate pencil fastened to a thimble, and with appa- 
ratus attached to his forefinger of the same hand 
holding the slate he did the writing. The thimble 
(Fig. 6) was fastened to an elastic which pulled 
the thimble out of sight up the sleeve or under the 
coat when it was done with. But it always required 
a httle scheming and maneuvering both to use and 
conceal the device and get rid of it, and there was 


always the fear of being detected with this bit of 
machinery about the person ; so someone of an in- 
genious turn of mind hit upon another method. 
There are some slate pencils made the same as lead 
pencils, that is, a very small piece of slate pencil, 
about the size of a match, is enclosed in the wood 
after the manner of lead pencils. A liny piece of 
this pencil is placed at the tip of the forefinger and 
over it is placed a piece of flesh-colored court plas- 
ter well fastened to the finger (Fig. 7) and well 
blended in with aniline dye with the finger, so both are 
exactly the same color. After everything becomes 

Fig. 7. — ^The Prepared Finger. 

dry and hard a little hole is made in the court plas- 
ter, so as to allow the point of the piece of pencil to 
come through enough to mark on the slate. The 
finger thus prepared is what does the writing. The 
message or name must be written backward, so that 
when the slate is reversed it will appear in its cor- 
rect position. To learn to do this quickly, stand in 
front of a looking-glass with the slate in your hand 
and watch your writing in the glass as you go along. 
You do not need to hold the slate underneath the 
table in this test ; hold it in the air with a handker- 
chief over it, so as to disguise the movement of the 


finger. The message must necessarily be short, on 
account of the radius through which the medium's 
finger can traveL 

We now come to another method o£ using the 
single slate. The medium takes the slate and places 
it on the table and requests the spectator to write a 
question on a piece of paper.. He, the medium, 
gains knowledge of the contents of the paper in 
various ways ; one is by using a pad of paper which 
contains underneath the second or third layer of 
paper a carbon sheet made of wax and lampblack. 
Whatever is written on the first sheet of paper will 
be transferred or copied by means of the carbon 
paper to the sheet underneath it. Another way is 
by requesting a person to fold the paper and hold 
it against his head, and, under the pretense of show- 
ing the person how to hold it, exchange it for a 
paper of his own folded in like manner. This ex- 
changed paper is then opened and read by the 
medium while his hand is below the level of the 
table top, and while he is holding a conversation 
with the auditor. After it is read, the paper is again 
folded and kept in the performer's lap until needed. 
As he now knows the contents of the paper, he 
can frame in his mind a suitable answer. He re- 
marks : " I will ask the spirits first to give you 
a decided answer, through me as an independent 
trance slate writing medium, whether they will 
answer your question during this sitting.'* So 
the medium takes a pencil in hand and writes on 
one side of the slate, apparently under spirit con- 
trol, and then on the other side. The message 
is read, and it says the conditions are very favor- 


able, and no doubt, if the skeptic will place the 
utmost confidence in the medium, there will be satis- 
factory results. After the slate has been shown 
with both sides covered with writing, it is thor- 
oughly cleaned and placed on the table. The medi- 
um now picks up the original paper from his lap and 
asks the person to give him the paper he is holding. 
This the medium apparently places under the slate ; 
however, he really holds this one back and intro- 
duces the one he has had in his hand, which is the 
one originally written upon. He has now his own 
paper in his hand, and the one with the question is 
under the slate. On the slate being turned over in 
a short time, it is covered with writing, forming a 
sensible reply to the question on the paper, which is 
now opened and read to compare it with the answer. 
All that remains to be explained is how the writing 
on the slate appeared there. The false flap is again 
used, but in a directly opposite manner to which it 
has been employed heretofore. One side of this flap 
is covered with a portion of the writing that the 
medium first wrote under spirit control. Let us say 
the first half supposed to have been written on the 
one side of the slate, and which he afterward reads 
off in connection with that written on the last or 
second side of the slate. What he really wrote on 
the first half of the slate was a correct answer to the 
question, and after he turns the slate over to write 
on the opposite side he slips the false flap over the 
answer on the slate. Of course it is what is on this 
false flap and on the other side of the slate that the 
spectator really reads, and when the slate is cleaned 
it is this flap and the opposite side of the slate. The 


writing, covered by the flap, which is the answer to 
the question, is never seen or touched until after 
the flap is allowed to drop into the medium's lap. The 
slate can be examined ; and, of course, no trickery 
can be found in connection with it. The method 
described above, in the hands of a calm and cool per- 
son, is a convincing one, and never fails to satisfy the 
most exacting of skeptics. 

I wish to remark that, if any person tells you 
he took two slates of his own to a medium, thor- 
oughly well tied or sealed, and that the slates never 
left his (the skeptic's) hands, and that there was writ- 
ing obtained upon the interior surface of the slates 
under those conditions, he was sadly mistaken, 
and has failed to keep track of everything that 
actually took place at the time of the sitting. Sup- 
pose two slates tied together are brought to the 
medium. Both he and the stranger sit at a table. 
The slates are h^ld under the table, the medium 
grasping one coi^her and the skeptic the opposite 
corner, each wftli one hand, and the disengaged 
hands clasped together above the table. After a 
while the slktes are laid upon the table, the string 
untied, thfe slates taken apart, but no writing is found. 
The medium states it must have been because there 
was no slate pencil between them. So a small piece 
of pencil is placed between the slates, and again they 
are tied with the cord by the medium, and he again 
passes them under the table, both persons holding 
the slates as before. Presently writing is heard, and, 
upon the skeptic bringing the slates from under the 
table and untying the cord himself, he finds .one of 
the slates covered with writing, although but shortly 


before they were devoid of even a scratch. Here is 
the explanation : The medium does not pass the slates 
under the table the first time, but drops them in his lap, 
with the side on which the string is tied or knotted 
downward, and really passes a set of his own for the 
skeptic to hold; he (the medium) supporting his end by 
pressing against the table with his knee, which leaves 
his hand disengaged. There is a slate pencil, called the 
soapstone pencil, which is softer than the ordinary. 
This is the one used by the medium. He now covers 
the face of the slate which is uppermost in his lap 
with writing, doing so very quietly and without any 
noise. Now, as he brings the slates above the table, 
he leaves his own in his lap and brings up the skep- 
tic's with the writing side down. The slates are 
untied and taken apart and shown, devoid of writing 
upon the inside, which he claims was caused by not 
having any slate pencil inside • The medium now 
places the pencil upon the slate wjiich was originally 
the upper one, and covers this w^'th what was the 
bottom slate, which is covered witii, the writing in- 
side on the back or bottom of slate.* This maneu- 
ver or action brings the slate on top with the writ- 
ing upon its inside. Nothing could be more simple 
and natural. The slates are again tied together, and 
in doing so the slates are turned over, bringing the 
slate containing the writing, still upon the inside, at 
the bottom instead of the top, and the string tied or 
knotted above the top slate. Of course, when again 
separated, the writing is found upon the inside of the 
lower slate. When the slates are passed under the 
table the second time, the spectator himself is allowed 
to do this, and the medium, with one of his finger 


nails, while holding his end of the slate, produces a 
scratching noise on the slate closely resembling the 
tracing of a pencil. It is not really necessary to 
pass the slates under the table the second time, but 
they can be held above it if preferred. 

Now, suppose two slates are brought that are riv- 
eted or screwed or sealed at the four corners. How 
can writing be obtained upon them without disturbing 
any of the above arrangements ? The slates are held 
under the table in the same manner as in previous 
tests. To produce the writing upon the slates the 
medium is provided with a few simple, though effect- 
ive devices, one of which is a little hard wood ta- 
pering wedge, and a piece of thin steel wire, to one 
end of which is fastened a tiny piece of slate pencil. 
An old umbrella rib will be found to work admir- 
ably, because there is a small clasp at one end and 
at its other end a small eye. The pencil is made to 
fit into the end with the clasp. Now take the 
wooden wedge and push it between the wooden 
frames of the slates at the sides. The frames and 
slates will give enough to allow the wire and pencil 
to be inserted and the writing be accomplished with 
it, after which the wire is withdrawn, and then also 
the wooden wedge, and all is done without leaving 
any trace or mark behind as to how it is all per- 
formed. (Fig. 8.) 

A well known conjuror at one time made a remark 
that he could duplicate any slate writing test he 
ever witnessed, he having publicly declared, time 
and time again, the slate writing test to be a fraud. 
He gave a test in private at his own home and hit 
upon a rather unique idea. A slate would be cleaned 


on both sides and a private mark placed on it, and 
the slate allowed to lie flat on the table, and the ma- 
gician and the committee sat around it and placed 
their hands upon the slate. Presently writing was 
heard, and upon lifting the slate the side underneath 
was found covered with writing. The table was a 

Fig. 8.— Wedging Apart the Slates. 

kitchen table with the ordinary hanging cloth cover, 
or table cloth. The table had a double top with 
room enough between the two to conceal a small 
boy. There was a neatly made trap in both the 
table cloth and the top of the table; the cloth being 
glued around the opening to keep it in place. The 
trap door opened downwards. The boy concealed 


in the table opened the trap door and did the neces- 
sary writing on the slate, and closed the opening. 
The idea of having the committee hold their hands 
on the slate was to prevent the slate from being acci- 
dentally moved by the boy when writing. The above 
idea was improved upon by doing away with the 
use of the boy and the double top of the table. The 
trap in the cloth and table top was still used. But 
the test was done with the lights turned out or 
down low, and the medium had a confederate sitting 
at his right hand side. This allowed the medium to 
take away his right hand, introduce it under the 
table, open the trap, do the writing, shut the trap, 
replace his hand, and on the lights being turned up 
the writing is found. It should be stated that the 
medium and committee sat around the table with 
their hands resting on the slate, and each person's 
hand touching that of his neighbor ; so neither could 
move without the other being aware of the fact, but 
the medium's right hand neighbor, being one of his 
confederates, allows him to take his (the medium's) 
hand away without any one being the wiser. 

I will now describe how the writing is obtained 
upon the interior of two slates sealed together, and 
all hands placed on them, and without the assist- 
ance of a confederate. The table is the same as pre- 
viously described, that is, it contains the trap. The 
slates are two single ones hinged together and sealed 
around the edges in any manner the committee may 
see fit. One of the slates is a trick slate made in this 
fashion: The slate part itself is made to work on 
a pivot or hinge along one of its sides. (Fig. 9.) 
The side opposite to where both slates are hinged 


together, b}' touching a portion of the hinges that 
htrfd the two slates together, a catch concealed in 
the wooden framework is released, which allows the 
slate part itself to drop down on its own hinge or 
pivot. So when the slates are placed on the table 
they are put directly over the trap in the table, and 
with the hinges of the two slates toward the medium. 
The medium, as he places the slates over the trap in 
the table, pushes the hinge releasing the catch, which 

Fig, 9.— The Trick Slate. 

allows the underneath slate to drop as far as the 
table. Now, when the trap in the table is opened, 
the slate opens or drops far enough for the medium 
to write on that part, also on the slate above it. He 
closes both the slate and the table, and the slates, 
upon being unsealed, are found covered with writ- 
ing. The only thing that remains to be explained is 
how the medium gets his hand free to do the writ- 


ing without being detected. The lamp or gas jet is 
close to the medium's right hand, where be can 
reach it. Now, all the persons are seated around 
the table with their hands on the slates, and each 
other's hands or fingers touching one another. The 
medium takes his right hand away to turn down the 
light, and his next door neighbor, as soon as the 
light goes out, feels his (the medium's) hand or 
finger replaced. At least, so he thinks. What 
really happens is this: The thumb of the medi- 

Fig. ID, — The Medium Holding the Two Skeptics' Hands, 

urn's left hand is stretched far enough over to 
touch the hand or finger of the person sitting on 
the performer's right hand side. (Fig. lo.) The 
medium immediately goes to work and produces 
the writing, and when finished, just as he goes to re- 
light the gas or lamp, he removes the left thumb to 
create the impression that he has just taken his right 
hand away again for the light. 

Here is a trick I once saw a medium do. He 


had a number of slates piled on top uf the table; 
he would clean these, one at a time, showing each, 
and after they had been thoroughly examined, he 
placed them on the floor. He would then pick them 
all up together and replace them on the table, and 
select two of them, put them together, holding them 
in his hand above his head, would shortly separate 
them and show one covered with writing. The 

Fig. II.— The Slate under the Carpet, 

slates were devoid of all trickery, as was easily proved 
in allowing them to be thoroughly examined. 

The explanation is as follows: The floor was cov- 
ered with carpet. In this there was a slit or cut just 
large enough to pass or draw a slate through. A 
slate with writing on one side is previously placed 
under the carpet, with that side down, (Fig. 11.) 
The slates, as they are cleaned, are laid on the car- 


pet immediately over or near this concealed one, 
and, on lifting the slates from the floor, this one is 
also carried with them, and all placed on the table. 

Of course, it is this slate and one of the prepared 
ones that are afterward used. There is little likeli- 
hood of any one taking notice of there being one 
more slate in the pile. 

Some mediums use two single slates, and, after 
cleaning them on both sides, hold one in each hand. 
They sit a little way from the table and place the 
right hand, with the slate, under the chair, as if to 
draw the chair closer to the table. What the medi- 
um really accomplishes is an exchange of slates. 
There is a little shelf, or drawer, under the seat of 
the chair. On this lies a slate, one side of which is 
prepared with writing. The medium picks up the 
slate and leaves behind in its place the one held in 
his right hand as he moves the chair. This is 
a method used to a considerable extent and always 

The following is a clever ruse, ofttimes used by 
mediums to destroy all traces of the use of the false 
flap when it is employed. It is the test where the 
flap is used to cover the writing on one slate, and 
then that slate is covered with another. • Now, if 
the slates are turned over or reversed, the writing 
is uncovered and the flap remains in the opposite or 
underneath slate. Now, to get rid of that flap, the 
medium deliberately presses his knee against that 
slate, breaking not only the slate, but also the flap 
contained in it. The broken flap mingles in with 
the broken slate, and nobody is any the wiser. No- 
body for a moment thinks of picking up the pieces 


to see if there are one or more slates. Of course, 
when the slates are broken, it is done secretly under 
the table, and the medium remarks : " The spirit 
force is so strong it has smashed the slate." A 
test with a single slate that I once saw done was 
rather neat in its way, and I think it worth describ- 
ing. The slate was examined and cleaned on both 
sides, and placed on a small table covered with a 
little fancy cloth. On lifting the slate afterward, 
its underneath side was found with writing on it. 
The top of the table was no larger than the slate. 
When the slate was laid on the table, the medium 
remarked : " To convince you there is no trickery 
about the table, I will remove the cloth ; " which he 
did, with the slate still on or in it, and then replaced 
the slate and cloth. Now, on this table top was 
resting another slate covered with writing on one 
side, and that side upward, and this covered with 
the table cloth. When the medium picked up the 
cloth and the slate, which had just been cleaned, 
he also carried along the second slate with it, which 
was under the cloth, and in replacing the cloth he 
simply reversed the sides, laying the first slate on 
the table, where it was covered by the cloth, and 
the second one was thus brought to view. It is 
astonishing how such barefaced and simple devices 
will deceive the spectator. It is the boldness and 
air of conviction of his assertions that carry a medi- 
um's test successfully through. 



The Double Slate. 

We now come to a slate called by the mediums 
" The double slate." It is, to all appearances, two 
ordinary slates hinged together at one side and 
locked with a padlock, the shackle of which passes 
through a hole in the sides of the frame oif each 
slate. This slate also contains the false flap or slate, 
but the slate or flap is held firmly in each frame as 
follows : The inside edges of both ends of each frame 
of the slates are beveled inward a trifle. One of 
these ends of each slate frame is also made to slide 
or pull out about one-quarter of an inch. These are 
prevented from sliding until wanted by the medium 
by a catch in the framework, which is connected 
with a screw in one of the hinges. This screw 
stands a little higher than the rest, so as to be easily 
found. The hinges are on the outside of the frame 
instead of inside. By pressing this screw it undoes 
the catch, which allows the ends to be moved a trifle. 
The false flap is just large enough to fill in the space 
under the bevels of the frame, and if, in the top frame, 
the catch is released and the end moved, the flap 
will drop into the bottom slate, where it is held tight 
and firm by releasing the catch in that frame, mov- 
ing the end until the flap settles into its place and 
then sending the end back into its original place 
again. The writing is placed beforehand on one 
side of the flap and on one slate, both the written 
sides face to face, and after the flap has changed 
slates it presents two slates with written sides. 



There is still another double slate used with hinges 
and padlock. (Fig. 12.) 

One of the ends of the wooden frame of one slate 
is fastened securely to its slate, which is made to 
slide out completely from the groove in the frame. 
This allows the insides of both slates to be written 
upon. After that is done the slate is slid back into 
its frame. Care should be taken, in sliding the piece 
back, not to reverse it so as to bring the writing side 
out. The best way is not to pull the slate completely 

Fig. 12.— The Sliding Trick Slates. 

out, and write upon the inside of the stationary slate, 
and then reverse the slates, which will bring the 
inside of the movable slate into view. Write on that 
and then close the slate. 

I have seen a medium use the double or folding 
slate and get rid of the false flap in this way: He 
used a pair of small slates. These he opened out 
with the flat side towards the audience, and while in 
his hand, cleaned those two sides away from the table. 
He now showed the reverse sides and cieaned them 


likewise. He now closed the slates, but toward him, 
instead of away from him, holding them close to his 
body, and as he does so, the false flap, by this move- 
ment, slips easily and unperceived beneath his coat 
or vest. 

I once witnessed a test which, for a time, com- 
pletely nonplussed me, but, after considerable study 
and experimenting, I solved it. 

This is the effect of the test : A person was allowed 
to bring two slates ; he was to wash them himself 
and securely seal them in the presence of the medi- 
um, the medium placing, before the slates were 
sealed, a piece of chalk between them. The slates 
were sealed after this fashion : Around the whole 
length and width of the slates court plaster was 
stuck, and that was also sealed to the slates with 
sealing wax, making it an utter impossibility to 
insert a piece of wire, or like substance, between 
the slates. Nevertheless, the slates were held under 
the table and presently removed, unsealed, and writ- 
ing in a very poor hand found upon the inner sur- 
face of one of the slates. It could hardly be called 
-writing, being hardly more than a scrawl. 

Now, how can this be accounted for? By one of 
the simplest devices imaginable. The medium placed 
the piece of chalk between the slates. This was 
composed of pulverized chalk, mixed with a little 
water, glue and iron filings, and allowed to become 
hard. The medium, while under cover of the table, 
traced with a magnet below the slate the words 
iound upon the inside, but backward, the same as 
type is set for printing ; if not, the writing on the 
slate will be in reverse. The chalk, on account of 


the iron filings it contains, follows the direction of 
the magnet. (Fig. 13.) 

We now come to another idea with two slates* 
Have two slates made with fairly deep wooden 
frames, deep enough to hold the slate proper and a 
false flap of slate. One made of silicate book-slate 

Fig. 13. — Magnetic Writing. 

stuff is preferable. Your apparatus consists now of 
two slates and one false flap. The false flap is made 
to fit very tightly, so it will not fall out of its own 
weight. The slates in the frame also fit snugly. 
The frames are mortised out a little thicker than the 
slate, say twice as thick. This allows the slate to 
work backward and forward, from front to back, and 


vice vena. If the slate is well pushed down and the 
flap placed on it, the flap will not fall out, but if you 
press the slate on the back forward, it shoves out the 
flap, and if it is covered with the other or second 
slate during this operation, it is forced into the 
second slate, which holds it firm and secure. 
Another test, which was supposed to be convincing 
to skeptics, was one in which a 
double slate was used; it was 
hinged and provided with a lock 
in the wooden frame. The slates 
were examined, locked, and the 
key given to the skeptic. The 
skeptic was allowed to select 
from a number of pieces of 
colored chalk the color that he 
desired the message to be writ- 
ten in. Upon the slates being 
unlocked and opened, the writ- 
ing is found in the color 
selected. While the slates are 
being examined, the medium 
Fig. i4.-The Thimble ^^.^^^ ^ duplicate key which 
Carrying False Key fits the lock. (Fig. 14.) This 
and Chalks. j^gy ^as a thimble attached to 

it which fits the performer's 
right thumb ; also attached lengthwise to the key are 
several small colored pencils or crayons of different 
lengths. When the slate has been examined, it is 
placed under the top of the table and held in posi- 
tion by the thumb of the right hand, which is under- 
neath, and the fingers above the table. During this 
manipulation the thimble is placed on the thumb, and 


the performer, with the key attached to it, opens the 
slate, using his knee to assist or support the slate. 
One part of the slate opens downward and rests on 
the knee, which holds it in position, i. e., at an in- 
cline, pressing it against the table top. On this part 
of the slate the writing is now done with the colored 
crayon selected, which are usually red, blue, green 
and white. When the color of the crayon is selected 
the performer turns the thimble around, bringing 
that color upward. Although not easy to execute, 
it is, nevertheless, a most sui'prising and effective 

The above test was used by a medium very suc- 
cessfully for years in England and France, and was 
found out recently. 

A test I once received was, I thought, quite clever. 
I was asked to write a question on a piece of paper 
furnished by myself and place it between two slates 
without the wooden frames. The medium said I 
would in a short time receive an answer. He then 
opened the slates, stating the answer must be there, 
but none was found. He remarked that perhaps we 
did not give the spirits time enough. So he replaced 
the slates together with the paper containing the 
question between. Again, on taking the slates apart, 
they were devoid of writing, but, strange to say, the 
answer in what looked like lead pencil was found on 
the paper containing the question. When the slates 
were removed the first time, the medium got a 
glimpse of the question on the piece of paper and 
then gave me one slate to examine, and apparently 
was looking at the other one himself. What he 
really was doing was this : On the side of the slate 


toward him he was writing a brief answer to my 
question with a pencil composed of mutton tallow 
and lampblack pressed very hard. This pencil was 
attached to his thumb. He held the slate at the 
ends with both hands, thumbs behind and fingers in 
front, the writing being done backward. When 
the slates were replaced the writing, being black, was 
not seen against the black slate, and was placed im- 
mediately over the paper and the writing transferred 
to it. This is the reason the slates were used with- 
out the wooden frame, because with the frame the 
two slates would not come close together to press 
hard enough to transfer the answer. 

A test, using a half dozen or so of slates, is as fol- 
lows: Two slates are cleaned and examined and 
given to be held together by a skeptic, and the other 
slates cleaned on both sides and placed on the table. 
The medium now takes the two slates apart, but no 
writing is found ; one slate is given to the skeptic 
and the other is placed on the table by the medium, 
who picks up another slate and places that with the 
one held by the unbeliever. After a short time the 
slates are again removed by the medium and no 
writing is found. As if in despair, the medium takes 
one slate away, placing it on the table, picks up 
another, showing both sides, places it with the one 
in the spectator's hand, and in a little while the skep- 
tic himself separates the slates and writing is found 
on one of them. 

This method brings in use again the slate with a 
false flap. This slate is among the others on the 
table. The two slates first given to the individual to 
hold are all right when the medium takes one slate 


away and places it on the table the first time and 
picks up another slate to place it with the one held 
by the skeptic. It is the flap slate, and this he places 
underneath the other slate and asks the skeptic to 
hold them. When the medium again separates the 
slates he turns them over, bringing the slate with the 
writing uppermost and also allowing the flap to fall 
into the lower slate, which is now taken away to be 
replaced by another taken from the table. Care is 
taken not to show the underneath side of the upper 

Fig, 15. — Slate with False Hinges. 

slate during this transaction. The slates the skeptic 
now holds are devoid of trickery, and when exposed 
with the writing on will cause wonderment. 

There is still another style of slate made, and used 
to good advantage. It is two slates hinged together, 
making a double slate. It has also two holes in 
the frame opposite to the hinges, through which 
tape or cord can be run and tied and sealed to the 
slates. (Fig. 15.) The secret of getting the writing 
upon the inside lies in the fact that at least one-half 


of each hinge is screwed to the slate ; the other half 
is made fast to a little projecting piece in which 
there is a slight notch. These projections enter cor- 
responding holes in the other slate, in which is con- 
cealed a spring bolt which engages these catches of 
the hinge. This bolt is shoved back to release the 
catches by means of a pin pushed through a hole in 
the end of the frame. 


Miscellaneous Slate Tests. 

At a public test or seance given by a medium I 
saw the following clever trick performed : A slate 
clean on both sides, to all appearances, and, of course, 
devoid of writing, was given to a spectator to hold 
above his head. The medium then loaded a pistol, 
putting in, instead of a bullet, a piece of chalk, which 
he rammed well in. He then took careful aim at 
the slate, fired away, and the slate was covered with 
writing from the chalk that was placed in the pistol. 
The medium, beforehand, allows any one in the 
audience to choose from a plate containing different 
colored chalks the colors they desire. The chalk is 
all right, and is actually placed in the pistol and 
crushed to a powder by the ramrod. The slate has 
been written on one side with glycerine. This 
side of the slate is supposed to be cleaned, so as to 
keep clear of the glycerine, in order that the invis- 
ible writing may not be disturbed. It is this pre- 
pared side that faces the medium when he fires the 
pistol. The powdered chalk adheres to the glycer- 
ine, and thus we make clear another slate miracle. 

A clever trick employed to deceive me on one 
occasion was as follows: I was handed a slate and a 
damp sponge, with a request to cleanse the slate. I 
did so, and handed it back to the medium, who held 
it in plain view in one hand. In a short time the slate 
was given back to me with writing on it that could 
not be produced by any of the methods I was al- 
ready acquainted with. I witnessed this test a 


second time, and it was only by accident that I dis- 
covered it, and all through the breaking of a string, 
to which the device employed was attached. The 
apparatus was a strip of narrow wood, nearly the 
length of the slate. Glued on it were raised letters of 
cork (felt would do also). These letters were in re- 
verse, and were well rubbed with soft chalk. This 
strip of wood was attached to a cord running up the 
left sleeve, across the back, and down the right arm- 
hole, and thence under the vest and the end fiistened 
to a button. The length of the string allowed the 
wood to hang behind the slate when held in the left 
hand. To keep the wood up in the sleeve until 
wanted, there was a loop on the string far enough 
up to suit the purpose. This loop was slipped over 
the button, where it could be easily detached with 
the right hand. The sponge was soaked in water 
containing alum, which makes the chalk adhere 
better to the slate. When the slate was handed to 
the medium, he held it downward in his left hand, 
and allowed the strip of wood to slip down behind it, 
when it was pressed firmly against the surface of the 
slate, and then pulled up into the sleeve again, out 
of sight. This same idea has been utilized in using 
a blotter, the same as is used for ink, to dry the 
slate with. The blotter has the writing done on it 
with chalk, thus doing away with the strip of 

Take a slate and cover it with writing on one side. 
Cover this writing with a piece of slate-colored silk, 
held in the corners lightly with wax. At one end 
of this silk have a few minute hooks. The slate is 
now cleaned on both sides, and, placing the slate 


on the floor, the piece of silk is allowed to attach 
itself by means of the hooks to the medium'3 pants» 
or dress, as the case may be, thus leaving the 
slate devoid of trickery. It is hardly necessary to 
remark that the slate is placed on the floor written- 
side downward. 

A friend of mine told me of a medium he once 
went to see, who gave him a most remarkable test. 
He brought his own slate, and, as he afterward said, 
there could have been no trick about it. The medi- 
um took the slate for a moment, and with a pencil 
covered the slate with writing on both sides, just to 
see, so he said, if it would be good enough for the 
test. He then cleaned oflf the slate on both sides 
and gave it back to my friend, requesting him to 
hold it close against his breast, and then in a short 
time remove it, and, when he did [so, he was thun- 
derstruck to find writing on it on the side nearest to 
him. This struck me as being a most astounding 
proof of spirit writing. 1 had a meeting with the 
medium, who gave me the same test. It seamed 
strange to me that he should want my slate to write 
on and wash it off again, for the same reason as he 
gave my friend, and that was to see " if it was good 
enough for the spirits to work with." I received a 
message on the slate, after it was washed, and saw 
that there was none on there after it was cleaned 
and handed to me. I went home puzzled, and ex 
perimented to no avail. I had another sitting with 
the medium, but he* did not give me the same test ; 
so I returned home again and tried to fathom the 
mystery, and was eventually successful. The trick 
was mainly in the pencil. It was pointed at both 


ends. (Fig. i6.) One end was a genuine slate pen- 
cil, the other end was a silver nitrate, or caustic 
pencil. In writing on the slate he wrote the lines 
quite a little distance apart with the slate i>encil ; in 
between these lines he wrote with the caustic pencil, 
the writing of which was invisible. The spionge 
the slate was cleaned with, was dipped in salt water. 
That part of the slate containing the writing done 
with the silver nitrate was just lightly tapped with 
the sponge^ the rest of the slate was thoroughly 
cleaned. The salt water, when the slate becomes 
dry, brings out the silver nitrate white like a slate 

Fig. i6.— The Caustic Trick Pencil. 

pencil mark. I consider this trick as ingenious and 
clever a one as it has been my good fortune to witness, 
and one that caused me much mental effort to solve. 
Here is another test. A slate just cleaned and 
marked is placed under the table on the floor. The 
medium and the skeptic grasp each other's hands 
across the table. In a few seconds the slate is taken 
up from the floor and is found with writing on it. 
The solution of this, like all the rest of the slate 
phenomena, rests in simplicity and boldness. The 
medium wears slippers or low-cut shoes, that he can 
slip his foot out of easily. His stocking on his right 
foot is cut away so as to leave the toes bare. Now, 
attached to his great toe is a bit of pencil, and with 


this the writing is done. (Fig. 17.) Sometimes the 
test is varied. Five or six pieces of chalk of differ- 
ent colors are on the table, and the investigator is 
allowed to select one, place it on the slate. In this 

Fig. 17. — Writing with the Toes. 

case the chalk is held between the great and adjoin, 
ing toe, and the writing is thus produced. It is sur. 
prising to see, with a little practice, what you can 
educate the foot to do. I myself can easily pick a 
pin off the floor and write quite well. Sometimes, 


by way of variation, instead of the medium or inves- 
tigator lifting the slate from the floor, it is seen to 
mysteriously make its appearance above the edge of 
the table, being lifted. there by means of the toes of 
the medium's foot. Another method used is that of 
scratching the writing on the slate with any metal 
instrument and then wash the slate on both sides, 
being careful not to show the scratched side until it 
is wet from the washing. In this condition a casual 
glance will reveal nothing, but as soon as the slate 
become^ dry the writing or scratching appears. 
Writing has also been made to appear on a slate on 
the table while the medium and investigator sit with 
both hands clasped across the table. The medium 
accomplished this by the simple means of a pencil 
concealed in his mouth. At the proper moment he 
holds it between his teeth, leans his head over and 
writes on the slate. Of course this is all done in the 
dark, and the writing is not very good, but it answers 
the purpose, and that is all that is necessary. 

Here is still another test. A person writes a ques- 
tion on the slate and places it, written side down, on 
the table. All this when the medium is not looking. 
The medium takes his seat at the table, places one 
hand on the slate (so does the skeptic, the other 
hand on the medium's forehead). With the disen- 
gaged hand the medium now proceeds to write on 
the upper surface of the slate. When he has finished, 
the communication is read, and it is found to be a 
correct answer to the question on the opposite side 
of the slate. To perform this seeming impossibility 
the medium has to employ a table containing a trap 
smaller than the frame of the slate. When the slate 


is placed on the table, the medium shifts it over this 
trap. The trap is then opened, and by means of 
mirrors, 3, 4, 5, placed at angles of 45 degrees in the 
body of the table, the writing is reflected to the 
very place where the medium is sitting, and the 
image is reversed to normal by the third mirror, 

Fig. 18. — Reading the Questions by Means of Mirrors. 

and it is easy then to give an answer to it. (Fig, 18.) 
The following is how writing can be made to 
appear on a slate on which a person has placed his 
initials in one corner of it, which is then placed 
with that side downward on the table, and shortly 
afterward, on turning it over, it is found com- 


pletely covered with writing, and the signature 
of the visitor proves there has been no exchange of 
the slate. The secret of obtaining this effect is both 
a unique and quite original method. 

The writing is already on the slate and is hidden 
from view by the false flap, which has a corner miss- 
ing from it. This missing corner is where the clever 
idea comes in. After the medium cleans both sides 
of the slate, he says : " I will just draw a chalk 
mark down in this cor- 
ner of the slate where- 
in the gentleman is to 
place his signature." 
He really draws the 
chalk mark on the 
slate proper, but close 
to the edge of the 
missing corner of the 
flap, thus disguising 
the joint, and after the 
flap is dropped out of 
the slate of course this 
mark and signature 
still remains. (Fig. 
Fig. 19.— The Interrupted Here is Still another. 

Flap. The medium cleans a 

slate on both sides and 
hands it to a skeptic to place his mark on it. It is then 
placed on the table, face downward, and in a short 
time, on being turned over, it is found with a spirit 
message on it. This is performed as follows : Let 
the message be written on the slate and then sponged 


out with alcohol, and when the slate dries, the writ- 
ing will be as plain as ever. 

Here is another slate writing secret. Dissolve 
in hydrochloric acid some small pieces of pure zinc, 
about one-half ounce to an ounce of acid. With 
this solution write upon the slate with a quill or a 
small camel's hair brush the desired communication. 
When dry it closely resembles writing done with a 
slate pencil. When the time arrives for the test, 
wash the slate, and it appears to be perfectly clean ; 
allow any one to examine it and hold it until it be- 
comes dry, but with the prepared side down. On 
the slate being turned over it is found to be covered 
with writing while in the spectator's hand. 

Here is still another idea. The medium has a 
number of slates in his arms, say four. He hands 
the investigator the top one to clean. When he has 
done so, the medium receives it back and places it at 
the bottom of the pile of slates and hands him another 
again from the top to be cleaned, and repeats 
this operation until all four slates have been cleaned. 
He now takes two of the slates, places them together, 
and, on removing them again, writing is found on one 
of them. Here is the method of procedure: Pre- 
pare your communication on one of the slates, and let 
it be the bottom of the pile, with the writing side down. 
Have your visitor seated, stand by his side just a 
trifle behind him, hand him the top slate to clean ; 
after he has done so, hand him the second one and 
receive the first one back, placing it at the bottom 
of all the slates, and repeat until the third slate. 
While this one is being cleaned, slip the fourth, now 
the top slate, to the bottom again. When the third 


slate is received, place it on the bottom and hand the 
fourth, really the first one over again ; it is, of course, 
the top one and dry by this time, and the investi- 
gator is none the wiser. Of course, the two slates 
placed together afterward are the one prepared with 
writing and one of the blank ones. Instead of slip- 
ping the top slate to the bottom, sometimes another 
dodge is used. The medium simply turns the three 
slates over by a twist of the hand. This brings the 
prepared slate at the bottom and the last slate 
cleaned at the top, and he says he will clean this one, 
thus saving time ; really, however, to disguise the 
fact that it is still wet from the last cleaning. He 
says, however, to the visitor, " You can clean it also, 
if you desire." 



Mind Reading and Kindred Phenomena. 

Having now described the principal slate tricks 
which mediums use to entangle the unwary for their 
own ends, we come to other tricks which are used 
from time to time to impress the credulous with the 
idea that the medium is imbued with supernatural 
power and can perform what are, in effect, miracles. 
These tricks are legion, and they vary from clumsy 
attempts at mystification to the use of elaborate 
pieces of magical apparatus which call for rare 
mechanical genius in their design and construction. 
The present chapter will deal more particularly with 
what might be termed mind reading tricks and the 
reading of concealed writing. Of these tricks one 
of the most perplexing is that of reading sealed com- 
munications, or answering questions placed in an 
envelope which is well sealed. 

If I were to tell you that I could read whatever 
was written on a card inclosed in an envelope, and 
that envelope not only well sealed, but also stitched 
or sewn through with a thread and needle or 
machine, and the thread sealed to the envelope also, 
without removing the seal, stitches, etc., you would 
hardly credit the assertion. It is nevertheless true, 
and is easily and readily accomplished by very sim- 
ple means. 

Prepare a sponge with alcohol. With this you 
rub or brush the envelope, which immediately be- 
comes transparent as glass, thus enabling you to see and read what is written on the card. It 



takes but a few seconds for the alcohol to evaporate 
and leave the envelope in the same condition as 
before, without leaving a trace as to what or how it 
has done. This test was used most successfully for 
years by a celebrated Philadelphia medium. 

We now come to a test often employed. A card 
is given by the medium to a skeptic with the request 
to write a question on it. The medium now holds 
the card in his hand against his forehead. Presently 

Fig. 20. — The Thumb Pencil Carrier. 

he hands the card back to the spectator, and on it, in 
writing, is found an answer to the question. The 
medium accomplishes the above feat by means of a 
little apparatus which is easily attached to the tip 
■of the thumb. Part of it goes under the thumb nail 
and the lower part has a small needle point which 
embeds itself in the flesh. In the center of this 
little apparatus is a tiny piece of lead pencil. With 


this clever bit of mechanism the medium does the 
writing with the thumb of the hand holding the 
card. (Fig. 20.) 

Four or five persons are seated around a table. 
They are given paper and pencil and requested to 
write questions, then fold their papers up and place 
them in their pockets. The medium will give them 
replies to their questions ; in fact, can tell them the 
full text of the questions they asked, and, what is 
more mysterious, he has been out of the room all 
the time the writing has been going on. To pro- 
duce this effect, you are provided with a table con- 
tiaining a hollow leg. Now, spread a piece of thin 
white silk on top of table, then on the top of that a 
piece of carbon, or duplicating paper, or cloth. 
Now, over all, a thin table cover, fastened around 
the edges, so it cannot be raised up and looked under 
by the inquisitive. 

To the white piece of silk is fastened a string leading 
down the hollow leg, through a hole in the flooring, 
to the cellar or room below. Whatever writing is 
placed on the papers is transferred by the carbon 
paper to the silk below it. The medium pulls the 
string, down comes the silk. One corner of the silk 
has a mark corresponding with a certain corner of 
the table, and by this method not only does the me- 
dium know what is written, but who wrote it, as he 
has simply to see the position the writing occupies 
on the silk, and it will have been done by the party 
occupying the same position at the table. Another 
way is by using a pad of soft paper and hard pen- 
cils, and, after the writing, remove the pads. It will 
be found that the hard pencil has caused an imprint, 


or indenture, of the writing on the page below, not 
readily seen by a casual glance, but easily seen by 
the skilled eye of the medium. 

A test sometimes oflFered is as follows : A card is 
offered to a person to write a request. It is then 
placed in an envelope and sealed by the medium and 
placed on the table sealed side up. The medium 
now takes a pencil and slate and writes something 
on it. It is given to the skeptic who wrote the 
question, and it is found to be an answer to his query. 
The medium now opens the envelope by tearing it 
at one end, and takes out the card containing the 
question and hands it to the spectator. This is an- 
other humbug, and is accomplished by exceedingly 
simple but bold means. It will be observed that the 
medium places the card in the envelope, also takes 
it out. The skeptic never sees it. This is the secret : 
The envelope, on its face, has a slit cut in it a little 
lower down than the opening on the other side of 
the envelope. This side, the face of the envelope, is 
never shown. The card, in being placed in the en- 
velope, is deliberately pushed through the slit in the 
envelope into the medium's hand and palmed by 
him and read. Of course, it is an easy matter to 
write some kind of a sensible answer when the ques- 
tion is known. The card is inserted in the envel- 
ope in the same manner as it is taken out. 

Another trick is to have an answer appear written 
upon the inside of the body of the envelope in which 
is enclosed the question. The envelope is closed 
and sealed with sealing wax. This is accomplished 
without disturbing the seal. In the ordinary manu- 
facture of an envelope, three of the flaps are stuck 


together with adhesive gum of far less strength 
than the fourth flap, which is to be moistened and 
closed by the user. It is generally an easy matter 
to insert the blade of a penknife behind the bottom 
flap, that is, between it and one of the end flaps, and 
separate them a trifle. Then, if you insert into this a 
wooden skewer, or hard, round-pointed stick, like a 
pencil, in fact, a lead pencil will do, but look out 
it does not leave marks behind ; and by pushing 
this along, and giving it a rolling motion, you will 
separate the flaps up as far as the seal, and, if done 
carefully, without tearing or mutilating the envel- 
ope. Now, on a slip of paper write the answer or 
suitable message, but in reverse or backward writing, 
as the words would appear in a looking-glass, with a 
carbon or copying pencil. Pass this slip through 
the opening in the envelope, shake it into the desired 
position, now rub the envelope over this spot until 
you think the envelope has taken the impression. 
Then remove the slip of paper by the same way it 
came in, moisten and gum the opening, and the trick 
is done. In rubbing the envelope, it is a good plan 
to place a piece of paper over it to keep the envel- 
ope clean of marks, which would be liable to appear 
from damp or moist fingers during the rubbing. 

The following is from the experiments of a Ger- 
man scientist. He discovered, by the use of an em- 
bryoscope, or egg-glass, that the shells of eggs were 
of very unequal thickness. 

It occurred to him to make experiments in order 
to ascertain how many leaves of ordinary letter or 
official paper must be laid above and below a written 
leaf, in order to make it illegible to a highly sensi- 


tive eye in the direct sunlight. He found that after 
he had rested his eye in a dark room for ten or fif- 
teen minutes, he could read a piece of writing 
over the mirror of the embryoscope that had 
been covered with eight layers of paper. He 
called in other observers to confirm this. The let- 
ters, however, that could be thus deciphered were 
written in dark ink on one side of the paper only. 
If four written sides were folded together, and es- 
pecially if there had been crossing, it was hard to 
make out the drift of the writing ; and there are 
some kinds of writing which, when folded thrice or 
twice, admit too little light for the purpose of de- 

In this way, possibly, many of the performances of 
" clairvoyants ** may be explained. By means of the 
egg-glass it is, as a rule, easier to make out the con- 
tents of a letter or telegram without the slightest 
tampering with the envelope than it is to detect the 
movements of the embryo in the egg. 

Suppose the writer of a billet, the contents of 
which are known only to himself, lets it out of his 
hands and loses sight of it for five minutes, it may 
be carried either in the direct sunlight, or into elec- 
tric or magnesium light, and be read by the aid of 
the egg-glass. The placing of a piece of cartridge 
paper in the envelope, or the coloring of it black, 
is a means of defense at hand. In their present 
form, telegrams cannot be protected from perusal, 
unless delivered at once into the hands of the 

A few tests employed by mind readers and clair- 
voyants, so called from their presumed ability to read 


other people's minds, will, I think, prove interesting. 
Let us suppose the performer, as a means of proving 
his ability to cause his subject to read his mind from 
a distance, or by mental telegraphy, execute the fol- 
lowing feat. His subject, let us say his wife, is at 
home. The professor is in a public place, a store, or 
banking house, etc. He requests some one to write 
a question ; he hands this person a fountain pen and 
a pad of paper. After the person has done so, he is 
requested to fold the communication up, place it in 
an envelope and seal it, and then put it in his pocket. 
He is now asked to write a letter or note to the pro- 
fessor's assistant, asking her to inform him what it 
was that he had asked on the paper inclosed in the 
envelope in his pocket. This note, and the pen also, 
for fear the lady has no writing utensils, is carried 
by the gentleman himself to the lady. She reads the 
request, and, turning the paper over, she writes the 
answer correctly on the other side. Sometimes, 
instead of the gentleman himself going with the note, 
a messenger boy is sent with it and the answer 
brought back by him. In either case the paper and 
pen are sent along. The pen is an ordinary fountain 
pen, and it is by means of it that the lady receives 
the desired information of what has been written. 
First the professor has to know what has been writ- 
ten. He simply says to the gentleman : '* You must 
allow me to read the question ; for, if I do not see it, 
how can my assistant see it, for it is through me she 
is enabled to know ? What I see I convey to her by 
mental telegraphy, and thus convey the communica- 
tion." After the professor sees the communication 
he goes to a desk and gets an envelope, or takes one 


out of his pocket, and gives it to the gentleman to 
place his question in and seal it. While this is being 
done he stealthily writes on a piece of fine, thin 
paper an exact copy of the question. This he makes 
into a little pellet and places it in the little cap or 
end that is made to cover the point of the pen for 
protection. Of coxirse it is now easy to see the 
method by which the question is made known to the 
assistant. She has simply to remove the pellet of 
paper, unfold it and read it. Sometimes a pad of 
paper is used that has cunningly concealed between 
two of its leaves, near the top, a piece of carbon 
duplicating paper. These two sheets are pasted 
around the edges so as to appear as one, and when 
the person writes a question it is duplicated on the 
sheet of paper following the one wherein is concealed 
the carbon paper. The professor has simply to tear 
out this sheet and inclose it in the cap of the fountain 
pen. The name of Foster is almost invariably 
coupled with any test wherein there is reading of 
sealed letters, pellets, etc., just the same as Slade's 
is connected with the slate writing tests. 

Foster was an inveterate smoker, anywhere and 
everywhere, especially at his s6ance, and it was all 
for a purpose. The visitor who desired a sitting 
with Foster was asked to write a few questions on 
small pieces of paper, fold them up separately, and 
press them into small balls or pellets. Foster would 
pick one of these up and hold it to his head, as if to 
try and penetrate it. Apparently failing to do so, 
he would place it back on the table. This he would 
repeat with others. Finally, he hands one of them 
to the visitor, after holding it against his forehead. 


requesting him to hold it himself. Foster then took 
a pencil and paper, and scribbled something on it, 
and then bared one of his arms, and showed it de- 
void of any preparation. He then rubbed this arm 
with his hand, and, on removing it, a name was seen. 
On reading what Foster scribbled on the paper, the 
visitor finds an answer to one of his questions, and 
the name in blood red on Foster's arm is found to 
be the name of a person addressed by the visitor in 
the note. Foster had a pellet of paper of his own 
concealed between his finger tips, and, at some con* 
venient moment, instead of placing back on the 
table one of the pellets he has just taken up, he sub- 
stitutes one of his own, keeping the bona fide one in 
his hand, which he lowers into his lap and unfolds. 
Holding it in the palm of his hand, he strikes a match 
and lights his cigar, and while doing so he is delib- 
erately reading the note, which he afterward crum- 
ples into a ball and conceals in his hand. He now 
takes up another pellet and tries to see through it 
by holding it to his forehead. He, however, fails, 
and gives it to the visitor to hold, really exchanging 
it for the one he has just read. He now has his 
own and the visitor has his. He now allows his 
hands to lie carelessly in his lap, and, while convers- 
ing with the visitor, he pushes one of his coat sleeves 
up a short distance, and, with a sharp-pointed stick, 
writes the desired name on his arm, pressing down 
hard. In a second or two he writes the answer to 
the visitor's question, minus the name he has just 
placed on his arm. He now shows his arm bare, 
and rubs the spot where he has written, with his 
fingers slightly moistened, whereupon the name ap- 


pears in bright pink writing. If it is desired to 
make it disappear, hold the hand above the head a 
few seconds. To make it appear again, rub once 
more with the fingers. 

Here is another trick which apparently calls for 
mind reading. The performer's assistant is sent out of 
the room. Now, a sum of figures in addition is placed 
on the slate by a spectator. When he has concluded^ 
the performer takes the chalk and draws a line under 
the numbers, turns the slate downward on a table, 
so nothing can be seen, places chalk on the slate, and 
retires into a corner of the room. His assistant is 
now called into the room, steps up to the table and 
seizes the chalk and marks down the correct answer 
to the sum of figures which is on the other side. 
Like all the tricks that appear the most incompre- 
hensible, this is one of the most simple. The per- 
former stands watching the person as he places 
down the numbers on the slate, he mentally adds 
them, and, with his hands behind his back or under 
his coat-tails, with a lead pencil in one hand, he 
writes on a piece of chalk held in the other hand the 
correct answer. It is needless to say that it is this 
piece of chalk he places on the slate, and not the one 
used. The chalk is scraped or filed flat a trifle 
lengthwise. This is to keep it from rolling on the 
slate, thus avoiding accidental exposure of the writ- 
ing on it, and also give it a flat surface to write on. 

Here is an effect I produced as a stage illusion 
some years ago, somewhat resembling a spiritualis- 
tic effect. Hanging up against the scene, at the rear 
of the stage, was a large blackboard. On this black- 
board writing appeared gradually, done in chalk, as 


though some unseen hand were actually at work. 
The blackboard was really nothing but fine wire 
slate-colored netting. There was a large hole cut in 
the scene immediately behind the blackboard. This 
hole was completely boxed in by curtains or wood- 
work, so as to make it as dark as night. A man was 
in this space, and he was dressed in a complete suit 

Fig. 21. — The Board Facing the Audience. 

of black ; also a black mask and gloves. He was 
provided with a pot of white paint, composed of 
whiting, water and glue, and a brush. Now, the 
man can see through this netting, but the spectators 
are nable to see him behind this screen of net- 
ting. With the brush and paint he traces on the 


wire netting whatever is desired. The paint comes 
through the meshes of the netting, and, adhering to 
it, makes a very good imitation of a chalk mark. It 
should be remembered the person doing the writing 
does so backward ; so it will be in correct position 
when seen by the audience. 

The following is somewhat in the same line, and is 
called the " Educated Fly :*' When the curtain rises 
a large mirror, in a gilt frame, is seen resting against 
an easel. (Fig. 21.) The magician takes the mirror 
in its frame from the easel and rests it on the floor, 
showing both sides to the audience. He also re- 
moves the glass from the frame, and rests the glass 
against the easel while he exhibits the frame to the 
audience. The frame has a solid wooden back. The 
mirror is abpiit four and a half feet wide and three 
feet high, &d after it has been inspected, the ma- 
gician replaces it in the frame. He now takes a 
piece of soap and marks the glass off into twenty- 
eififht even squares, which he numbers from one to 
twenty-si:t, and letters from A to Z; one of the 
remaining squares is zero, and the other is left, as 
the prestidigitateur says, for a starting^oint. He 
now takes a large fly from the table and places it on 
a little shelf which projects from the empty square. 
He then asks that a letter or number be called. As 
soon as this is done, the fly is seen to travel across 
the mirror and stop at the desired square. This is 
repeated time and time again, the fly every, time 
returning to the starting point. 

The reason for having the mirror separate from its 
frame, and exhibiting it separately, is this : It will be 
remembered that the mirror is rested against the 


easel as the frame is shown, and that this frame has a 
wooden back. In addition to the wooden back, it 
has a cloth back, which is firmly fastened to the 
frame, and then comes the wooden back. This back 
is hinged to the frame at the bottom. Now, when 

Fig. 32.— The Mystery Explain^, 

the frame is placed on the easel and the mirror 
rested on the floor, the space behind the easel from 
the floor up is concealed by the mirror, and this 
gives an opportunity for a boy to get through a trap 
in the floor and pull down the back of the frame, to 
makeashelf on which hesits. (Fig.22.) Ofcourse,the 


cloth back is still in the frame ; so the boy cannot be 
seen. The mirror is taken up and replaced in the 
frame ; then it is marked off into squares, as already 
mentioned. The black cloth is previously marked off 
into squares which exactly duplicate those which 
. have been made on the face of the mirror. The fly 
is made of cork, with an iron core which is set flat 
against the glass. The boy behind the mirror is pro- 
vided with a strong electro-magnet attached to a wire 
running down the leg of the easel and under the 
stage, where it is connected to a powerful battery. 
He brings up the magnet and several feet of wire 
with him while the mirror is resting on the stage. 
When the boy hears the numbers called, he applies 
his magnet to the corner where the fly is resting on 
the little shelf, and the magnetic attraction, working 
through the glass, draws it successively over the 
squares until it comes to the desired spot, which the 
boy can see on his chart ; and, of course, the proper 
letter or figure is indicated where the fly stops. 

The most sphinx-like problem ever presented to 
the public for solution was the second-sight mystery. 
There have been many exposes of " meittal fnaigic," 
and some of the best of them are described in 
" Magic : Stage Illusions and Scientific Diverdons, 
Including Trick Photography.** 

We have now to concern ourselves with " mental 
magic '* where the results are obtained by clever 
tricks. There have appeared, from time to time, 
before the public, individuals who generally work in 
couples, termed " operators " and " subjects,** who 
have given performances which were termed mental 
wonders, silent second-sight, etc. The operator in- 


variably tries to impose on the public with the idea 
that he possesses some mysterious power over the 
** subject " by which he is enabled to communicate 
information to her by his will power over her mind, 
without a word being spoken. There are, of course, 
various methods of performing this trick, as by a 
code of predetermined signals in which sentences 
like the following are used : ** Say the number. 
Well? Speak out. Say what it is." But these 
methods are not comparable with the mechanical 
means which we are about to describe. 

The " operator,** after informing the audience ot 
the wonderful powers of divination which the sub- 
ject possesses, introduces the ** subject," who is in- 
variably a lady. She is seated on a chair near the 
front of the stage, in plain view of the audience. 
Her eyes are heavily bandaged, so she cannot see. 
A committee is invited to go upon the stage to sec 
that the lady has had her eyes properly blindfolded, 
and also, ostensibly, to help the operator. A large 
blackboard is placed at one side of the stage, behind 
the lady. One of the committee is requested to step 
to this blackboard and write on it, with chalk, some 
figures, usually up to four or more decimal places ; 
and after he has done so he resumes his seat. 1 he 
lady immediately appears to add up the number 
mentally, calling out the numbers and giving the re- 
sults of the addition. Each member of the commit- 
tee is invited to step to the blackboard and touch a 
figure. No sooner has he done so than the lady calls 
out the number* Other tests of a similar nature are 
given, such as the extraction of square and cube root, 
etc. They all prove that the lady has a thorough 


knowledge of the numbers on the blackboard and the 
relative position which they occupy. It is, of course, 
proved beyond a doubt that the lady cannot see the 
blackboard. The question then arises, How does 
she obtain the information ? There are two methods 
of performing this trick. In either case her informa- 
tion is obtained from a confederate, who is generally 
concealed under the stage, who has the blackboard 
in sight, and who transmits to the lady the desired 

Id one method the lady has a hole, one and a half 

Fig. 23. — The Foot Telegraph, 

inches in diameter, cut out of the sole of one of her 
slippers. {Fig. 23.) She places this foot over a hole 
in the stage, through which a small piston is worked 
pneumatically by the assistant. The piston is con- 
nected with a rubber tube, which runs to where 
the assistant is concealed. The assistant looks at the 
blackboard and manipulates the bulb, thus causing 
the piston rod to strike the sole of the foot, giving 
signals which can be readily understood by the sub- 
ject. Robert Heller used a system somewhat simi- 


lar, only an electro-magnet was used instead of the 
pneumatic piston. 
Another and bolder method of conveying infor- 

Fig. 24, — The Speaking Tube. 

mation is the speaking tube. In this case a Vienna 
bent-wood chair is used. The chair is specially pre- 
pared for the trick. One leg of the chair is hollow. 


and the air passage is continued to the very top. 
The lady usually has a long braid of hair hanging 

\ i 


down her back, and, if not blessed by nature with 
this hirsute adornment, she wears a wig. In either 
case, concealed in the hair is a rubber tube, one end 


being close to the ear and the other hanging down 
with the braid, so that when the lady is seated on the 
chair the operator can easily connect it with the tube 
in the chair. (Fig. 24.) 

There is still a third method, which is so absurdly- 
simple that it deceives even a very knowing com- 

Fig, 26. — The Signaling Instrument. 

mittee. The committee places a chair on any part 
of the stage they may see fit, and the subject seats 
herself and is blindfolded as before. A thread runs 
from the side of the subject through a small ring 
attached to a chandelier overhead. (Fig. 25.) One 
end of this thread is held by an assistant and the 


Other end is fastened to a hammer working on a 
pivot secured to a metal plate concealed in the hair 
of the lady, her hair being dressed high. When she 
walks on the stage, the assistant pulls in the slack of 
the thread, and when she is seated on the chair, the 
assistant pulls the thread taut, so that he is able to 
communicate signals to her by a very slight motion 
of the thread, which causes the hammer to work on 
the plate, which is resting very close to the skull, so 
that the signals are easily felt at every stroke of the 
hammer. (Fig. 26.) Predetermined signals may be 
used, or the regular Morse alphabet, as in telegraph- 
ing. There are a number of other ways of convey- 
ing information, but the three methods we have 
described are perhaps the best. 



Table Lifting and Spirit Rapping. 

So much has been heard about table tipping and 
floating tables, it will, I think, prove interesting to 
explain a few of the clever devices employed to pro- 
duce the above phenomena. Small, light tables are 
lifted by the mere " laying on of hands." The arms 
are raised in the air and the table is seen to cling to 


Fig. 27.—Table Ufting Trick. 

the hands and follow every motion. This is accom- 
plished by a pin driven well into the table, and a 
ring with a slot in it (Fig. 27) worn on one of the 
medium's fingers. The body of the pin easily enters 
the slot in the ring, but the head of the pin, being 
larger, prevents the table from falling away from the 
hand. After the table has been floated successfully, 
an extra strong upward pressure of the hand pulls 
the pin out, and the table can be examined. Another 


test on somewhat similar lines is the lifting of a bowl 
of water by immersing the hand in the basin of 
water. In this case a pin is fastened firmly into a 
leather or rubber sucker, and the finger ring again 
does the work. (Fig. 28.) This can also be used to 
lift anything that is not of a porous nature. A table 
with a well polished top can be easily lifted. In 
lifting large tables the medium is assisted by a con- 
federate among the assembled guests. It is his 
duty to get as near opposite the medium as possible. 
The medium and the confederate have fastened to 
their wrists, by means of a leather cuff and straps, a 
bent hook. (Fig. 29.) Their hands rest on top 
and the hooks under the table. By this means it is 

Fig. 28.— The Sucker. 

a simple task to raise the table. Sometimes the 
above device is varied ; instead of hooks fastened to 
their wrists they use hooks from under their vests, 
hanging by a loop from their necks. (Fig. 30.) 
I have seen a square table lifted without the use of 
either of the above devices. The medium and his 
confederate simply got the linen cuffs of their right 
hands well under the corner of the table, and with 
their hands on top they found no difficulty in raising 
the table by this improvised means. 

Although spiritualists claim they have, and can, 
make pianos float in the air, I have never seen it 
accomplished, and I could never get a medium who 



was able to produce the efifect, and I sincerely doubt 
if any one can honestly and truthfully acknowledge 
they have witnessed it. 

I saw a small, round table once floated in the air 
without the medium touching it. It was accom- 
plished by means of two threads running across the 
room and worked by two confederates. The threads 
were on the floor and lifted up and allowed to catch 
under the table. 

I have also seen a letter raised from a table and 

Fig. 29. — The Leather Cuflf and Hook. 

float in the air into the medium's hand. This was 
done also with a thread, one end fastened in the 
wall above the table the letter rested on, the other 
near the medium. The letter is not sealed. This 
allows the thread to go between the flap and letter, 
or envelope, and when the medium pulled the thread 
taut, it made an incline for the envelope to travel on, 
right up to the outstretched hand. 


Years ago Robert-Houdin, the celebrated French 
conjurer, produced, at his pretty little theater in 
Paris, an illusion which, for startling effects, has not 
since that time been excelled ; and the means which 
he employed for operating the stage machinery have 
been employed in many stage tricks of more recent 
date. The stage is set to represent a drawing-room, 
and, in stage parlance, would be called a " box set/* 
There are side scenes, as well as a " drop '* or back 
piece. In the center of the room is a large door, and 
a grand piano rests against one of the side scenes, a 
small table being placed near the door. When the 

Fi&- 30' — l^he Loop and Hook for Table 


illusion is to be performed, a lady enters carrying a 
bouquet, which she leaves on the table and advances 
to the piano. (See Frontispiece.) She seats herself, 
opens the cover of the piano and plays a short piece ; 
then, closing down the cover, remarks that she does 
not feel in the humor to play. She extends her hand 
toward the bouquet on the table, which mysteriously 
rises and falls through the air into her hand ; and, at 
the same time, she is seen to rise upward in the air 
still seated upon the piano stool. When she reaches 
a point midway between the ceiling and the floor she 


glides toward the opposite sides of the room, and the 
piano, which seems as if it will not be outdone, rises 
also and follows her through the air. This is usually 
received with great applause by the audience, and 
the curtain falls. The explanation of the phenomena 
is the following (Fig. 31): In the first place, the 
piano case is cleverly made out of papier macft^, 
and is really a mere shell containing no keyboard or 
action. The back of the piano is open ; immediately 
behind it, in the side scene, is a trap, and at the back 
of this scene is a real piano mounted on a truck, so 
that it can be easily moved backward and forward. 
Our engraving shows both the piano and the trap. 
When the real piano is run into the papier machd 
case the keyboard is in its normal position, so that 
the lady can play upon it. When the lady finishes 
playing she closes the lid of the false piano. As soon 
as this is done an assistant behind the scene moves 
the piano back, thus leaving the empty shell, and the 
trap in the scene is closed. The false piano is, of 
course, very light, and to it are fastened fine wires, 
which are invisible at a short distance ; one is secured 
to each corner. These wires run up over pulleys on 
a truck overhead, which can be run backward and 
forward immediately over the scene. Each wire is 
terminated by a bag of sand or shot, which counter- 
balances the weight of the piano. It will be noticed 
that there is a fifth wire secured to the false case. It 
is run up also over the pulley in the truck, and then 
off to the side of the stage beyond the side scenes. 
By pulling this wire the piano is raised or lowered to 
any desired distance. Counterweights hold the in- 
strument at any position. There is a rope attached 



to the overhead truck, so that it can be pulled back 
and forth, thus causing the piano to move across the 
stage. There are, of course, slits in the ceiling of the 
mimic stage which allow the wires to pass through. 

The lady is raised by a curious device. There is 
attached to the piano stool a clear piece of plate glass, 
which comes up through a slot in the stage techni- 
cally known as a "slider." This glass is made to 
raise or lower by means of a windlass. The glass 
rests on a cross-piece ot wood and works up and 
down in a grooved frame, which is secured to a mov- 
able truck under the stage. The slot in the stage is 
continued in the direction in which the glass is to 
move, and the carpet is of a marked design which 
will cover the narrow opening. 

The bouquet is secured with a thread attached to 
the piano, and it then goes through the door, where 
an assistant holds the loose end. A small loop of 
wire is attached to the bouquet, and a thread runs 
through it. When the lady enters the room and lays 
the bouquet on the table, this thread is passed 
through the loop of wire. When the bouquet is de- 
sired to travel to the lady, the assistant has only to 
raise the end of the thread high enough and the 
bouquet slides down the incline into the lady's hand. 

A medium in Detroit, Mich., has lately been hood- 
winking the public and coining money with an idea 
that was quite original. He employed a small, shal- 
low box, composed of wooden sides and ends and 
slate top and bottom. The box and its lid were 
about of even height, and were hinged together. 
(Fig. 32.) The box contained a telegraph key con- 
nected up to a sounder and a dry battery sitting 


outside of the box on the table. The medium 
allowed everything to be well examined. It was 
proved that the battery on the table was the only 
means of operating the sounder whenever the key 
was worked. If one of the wires were disconnected, 
or the box were closed and the key thus out of the 
way of manipulation, the sounder would not work. 
After everything was satisfactorily explained, notes 
were written on pieces of paper, which were 

Fig. 33.— The Telegraph Set. 

folded and placed upon the table. These are 
taken, one at a time, and placed in the box and 
the lid closed. If conditions are favorable, the 
spirits will be enabled to read one of the inclosed 
notes, and will send a telegraphic reply over 
the sounder ; and such is ofttimes the result. Of 
course, we know spirits do nothing of the sort ; 
it is the medium who accomplishes all of this. How 
does he know the contents of the note? How does 


he cause the ticker to work with the key inclosed in 
the box? The visitor is placed on one side of the 
table, generally facing a window, so as to have the 
light shine into his or her eyes. The medium sits 
opposite with his back toward the window ; the box 
containing the key is at his side of the table, with 
the hinges, or the back of the box, toward the vis- 
itor. Now, if the lid of this box is opened and a 
paper taken off the table and placed in the box and 
the lid closed, you could not tell for certain if the 
paper was actually placed in or not, for the simple 
reason that the cover of the box, when up, complete- 
ly masked the operation. It is by the above scheme 
that the medium obtains the notes on the paper. 
The first one or two are actually placed in the box ; 
then the next one is deliberately dropped into the 
medium's lap instead of the box. He unfolds it, reads 
it, refolds it, and, on opening the box, apparently 
takes it from there and places it back on the table 
and does not lose track of it. Two or three other 
papers are placed in it by the visitor, and again taken 
out by him. Again the visitor is asked to place in it 
the one the medium knows the contents of. Now 
the ticker commences to work. With his left hand 
carelessly resting on the corner of the closed box, the 
medium writes with his right hand, with a pencil, on a 
pad of paper, the communication received over the 
ticker. The visitor removes the paper trom the box, 
and the answer just written by the medium on the 
pad is found to be a reasonable one to the written 

All that remains to be explained is the working of 
the sounder. It is very simple. In the first place, the 


lid and box are hinged so as to be hinge bound ; 
that is, they will not, of their own weight, quite 
touch each other, possibly about an eighth of an 
inch, or less, apart. But by the pressure or weight 
of the hand they will come together. Now, the 
telegraph key, like all such instruments, is provided 
with a tension screw, which can be screwed one 
way or the other. When the medium desires his 
instrument to work, he raises this tension screw, 
to which is fastened the button of the key, just high 
enough to touch the lid on the inside of the box 
when it is closed of its own weight. Now, when the 
hand is resting on the box, he proceeds to make 
the sounder "speak" at will, with no perceptible 
movement of his hand. A simple muscular con- 
traction of the palm of the hand, which cannot be 
detected, is sufficient to control the sensitive key, 
by pressure of the box cover on it. The whole thing 
is so simple, and at the same time puzzling, that it 
makes one laugh to think how little it takes to make 
a fool of a man. 

In the case of this medium, the head of the tension 
screw was brass, and left a brassy mark on the slate 
top. He soon observed this, and changed it for a 
hard rubber one, which left no telltale marks behind. 
Sometimes he did not raise the tension screw, but 
laid the folded paper the question was written on 
on top of it. This made up the required height. 
Other mediums improved on the above method by 
working the key through the box by an electro- 
magnet concealed in the table top. The current to 
the magnets was turned on and off, or broken, as the 
line is used, by means of a small button in the body 


of the table, pressed by the medium's leg. This 
method allowed him to keep his hand off the box. 

The raps, or noises, are produced in various man- 
ners. Press your boot heel gently against a table 
leg. The slipping of the leather against the wood 
makes perfect spirit raps, wood being a good con- 
ductor of sound. The raps apparently come from 
the table top if attention is directed in that direction. 
Some mediums, with the tips of their fingers pressed 
firmly on a table top, slip them, by a dexterous 
movement, along the varnished surface, thus making 
very fair examples of raps or thuds. Some mediums, 
in their own homes, have tables provided with 
electro-magnets concealed in them, by which the 
knocks are accomplished. Medical experts claim 
that a very good result can be obtained by the mere 
displacement of the tendons of the muscle called 
peroneus longuSy in the sheath in which it slides 
behind the external malleolus. Others again produce 
it by snapping the toe or knee joints. Watch a 
boy some day as he snaps his finger joints, and if 
he were to rest his elbows on the table while do- 
ing so, the sound would be intensely strengthened. 



Spiritualistic Ties. 

"Ties'* have always been one of the great stand- 
bies of mediums, second only to slate writing. 

The following is a simple test Avith a rope or piece 
of string: A long piece of rope is given for inspec- 
tion, and, on its return to the medium, he coils it up 
and lays it on the table ; the two ends are tied 
together and sealed fast to the table. The coils of 
the rope are now allowed to drop on the floor. 
Lights are lowered, and, in a few minutes, when 
the lights are relighted, the coil of rope is found 
with numerous knots tied in it that could not natu- 
rally have been accomplished without the ends 
being untied and unsealed. This mystery is accom 
plished by simple means. When the medium re- 
ceives the rope back he does not coil it up as a person 
would, in the ordinary fashion, but makes the coils 
so they really form half hitches, and, as he lays them 
on the table, he runs one of the free ends through 
all the coils, then ties the two ends together. Each 
coil will now form an overhand knot. An easy man- 
ner of manipulating the rope is as follows : The rope 
is held in the hands, with palms upward ; now, to 
form the coil, or half hitch, the right hand is given a 
half twist; this brings the palm facing the per- 
son's breast and back of hand outward, and leaves 
the rope as seen in Fig. 33 ; this loop is transferred 
to the left hand (Fig. 34), and the operation repeated 
until the supply of the rope is exhausted. Now, to 




make the knots, one end of the rope has simply to be 
passed through all the loops. 

I have seen the above test worked also as follows : 
Two skeptics were used. One end of the rope was 
fastened to one of the skeptic's wrists and the other 
end to the wrist of the second skeptic. The knots 
were sealed. The rope in this case was quite long^ 
about twenty feet. The medium now makes the 
rope up into a few coils ; out go the lights, and, in a 
few minutes, on the lights being turned up, the rope 
is found with knots. This is what happens : When the 
lights went out, the medium went up to one of the 
skeptics, and, while talking to him and moving him 
two or three feet further away from the other skeptic^ 
he has passed the coils over this one man's head, and 
allowed the coils to drop to the floor. As soon as 
the skeptic steps out of these, the job is done. 

There is another test on somewhat similar lines. 
A short piece of rope is examined and the performer 
holds it in one hand and then tosses it into the 
cabinet, which is empty. On opening the curtain in 
a few seconds the rope is found with a knot on it. 
The performer himself actually ties the knot with 
one hand in the act of tossing the rope into the cabi- 
net. The rope is held in the hand palm upward^ 
very near one end, the short end in the hand being 
with the long end hanging down, the shorter part 
being between the thumb and the forefinger. The 
hand and arm are given a kind of half circular sweep 
in tossing the rope into the cabinet ; this causes the 
long portion of the rope to swing under, then over 
the wrist, and across the fingers of the hand. This 
end is then seized between the fingers and drawn 



through the loop just made ; at the same time the 
loop is dropped off the wrist as the rope is tossed 
into the cabinet. In reading the above description 

Fig. 33. — First Position. 

it seems like four or five different movements, but 
with practice they all blend into one. 

Here is another test. A single knot is tied in the 
center of a piece of string ; now the ends are tied 

Fig- 34- — Second Position. 

together and knots sealed. The lights turned down ; 
on their again being turned up, the knot from the 
center of the cord has disappeared. The moment 


there was darkness the medium started to work, and 
kept slipping the knot along the string until it joined 
the rest at the top of the string, where there is not 
much fear of its being seen. To further protect him- 
self he uses the following plan : He chews gum col- 
ored the same as the sealing wax usjed. Now in the 
dark, when he has the single knot up against the 
others at the end of the string, he covers this knot 
with part of the chewing gum and blends it in with 
the sealing wax.. 

I will now explain a few ties, rope and otherwise, 
by which the mediums allow themselves to be tied. 
It is almost invariably the rule for the medium to 
suggest to the investigator the general way he wishes 
to- be tied. They must have certain conditions, so 
they say, or the spirits will not work. It is safe to 
say the conditions are very strict and always in favor 
of the medium. The female medium has a prefer- 
ence for ties in which tape or muslin, or cotton 
cloth torn into strips, is utilized. The male per- 
former, as a rule, uses rope and wire. I will first 
describe what is known as the braid or tape test. 
Take a piece of tape about three-quarters of an inch 
wide. Have one end of this securely tied around 
the wrist ; now the person who is conducting the 
test seats himself in a chair with his hands behind 
the back of the chair ; now have the loose end of the 
tape passed between the uprights forming the back 
of the chair; have the other end fastened around 
the remaining hand. The moment you are in the 
dark, or hidden from view, you can produce any 
manifestation that requires the use of one or both 
hands, by following these instructions. The first 


hand can be tied as the investigator pleases. Now, 
when the second hand is to be tied, keep a strain on 
the tape enough to keep it taut. By so doing a 
square knot cannot be tied on the tape, but simply a 
running knot, or a knot around the strand of the 
tape — a knot that can be slid backward and forward. 
Here is what is known as the cotton bandage test. 
A ring staple or ring screw eye, the ring being about 
two inches in diameter, is wound around with un- 
bleached muslin of the same color as used to tie the 
medium's wrists with. This ring is fastened securely 
into the door jamb or any stationary wooden support 
by one of the investigators. Two strips of muslin about 
three feet long are given to the investigator ; one of 
each is tied around one of the medium's wrists and 
the knots sewed and sealed. Her (for the medium is 
supposed, in this case, to be a lady) hands are now 
placed behind her, and the ends of the strips from 
each wrist are now tied together and the knots tied 
and also sewed ; and what ends are left are evenly 
cut off near the knots. Another strip of muslin, 
about the same width and length as the others, is now 
produced, and one of the committee ties this strip 
around the knots between her wrists, leaving the 
ends of equal length. The medium now takes her 
seat on a small stool, with her back toward the ring 
in the door jamb. One end of the last muslin strip is 
passed through the ring and several knots are tied. 
After tying several knots, the ends of the strips are 
tacked securely to the woodwork of the door. 
Another strip is procured and tied around the medi- 
um's neck, and then tacked also to the door jamb. 
Two more strips are now used, one passed around 


each arm, not tied, and the ends of each tacked to 
the door. The committee, having done all the work 
themselves, of course, are thoroughly satisfied as to 
its genuineness. They now retire from the cabinet, 
which has been simply made by a curtain across one 
corner of the room, forming a triangular space. No 
sooner is the curtain closed than the usual manifes- 
tations occur, such as ringing of bells, tooting of 
horns, banging of tambourine, etc. Immediately the 
curtain is opened and the medium found securely 
bound and not a bandage disturbed. Finally a 
pocket knife is placed upon her lap, the curtain is 
closed, and in a few seconds the medium comes for- 
ward with her bonds cut, but only the wrists sepa- 
rated ; this has been done, she claims, by the spirits, 
with the use of the knife which was placed in her lap. 
Now to explain away the mystery. In a convenient 
pocket in her belt she has concealed a small, sharp, 
open knife, with which she cuts through the bands 
between the wrists. She cuts this band between the 
knot on her right wrist and the knot in the middle 
made by tying the ends of the wrist bands together. 
She now slips the loop which was tied around off, 
leaving it whole and still tied around the ring. She 
is now free to use both hands, and, as the last strips 
around her arm were not tied, they are easily man- 
aged. She makes what manifestations she chooses, 
and by placing her wrists one each side of the ring, 
and clasping her hands together, pressing all tightly 
together, she is ready for examination. The ring 
being wound with muslin, one cannot see that any- 
thing has been changed ; and this is the reason it is 
wound. Another thing to notice is that the spirit 


cutting is the last test. The reason of this is, if the 
investigators were to release her, they would dis- 
cover the secret. Male performers use the same idea 
for rope ties from which they find it impossible to 
release themselves. They have a knife blade sol- 
dered firmly on to a brass plate, which is riveted or 
sewed on the back of the performer's trousers, the 
edge of the knife blade being outward. He has sim- 
ply to run the rope up and down over this contriv- 
ance, and he soon gains his liberty. 

^ig- 35- — The Davenport Tie. 

I will next illustrate a tie made famous by the 
Davenport Brothers. (Fig. 35.) The rope used is 
what is known in trade as a sash rope. Silver Lake 
or Sampson brand is the best. This is a stiff, pol- 
ished or smooth, hard finished rope. With this 
style of rope it is an almost utter impossibility to 
be tied but what you can free yourself. The Daven- 
ports, on first being secured, would try and induce 
or lead the committee who did the tying to do so in 
a way which would be advantageous to the medium. 


See Barnum's " Humbugs of the World/' page 
136: "The brothers saw they could not wriggle out 
of the knots. They therefore refused to let the tying 
be finished." Of course, they did not make the re- 
quest pointed, or apparent, but, in the coolest nat- 
ural way, and not suggestive of any conceived plan. 
Their method was as follows : 

One of the committee, holding a piece of rope, 
about twelve feet long, as near the center as possible, 
would be requested to tie first one of the mediums* 
left hands, tying two or three good, hard, square 
knots about the wrist, the knots coming to the in- 
side of the wrist or palm side of the hand. The 
medium, during this part of the tie, faces the audi- 
ence. He now explains to the person who does the 
tying that when he, the medium, places his left hand 
behind his back, he will place his right hand close 
against it, and requests the skeptic to tie a few or 
as many knots on top of that hand as he may see fit. 
The medium, after this explanation, places his hands 
behind his back, and then turns around, with his 
back toward the audience. The committeeman 
now secures the right hand against the left. The 
medium now enters the cabinet, is seated in a chair, 
or on a bench, in which two holes are bored. The 
ends of the ropes are now passed through these 
holes, and knots tied in the rope close to the seat of the 
chair, and thence carried to the front legs of the chair, 
where it is fastened. Two other smaller ropes are 
used to tie the medium's legs to the chair. The 
usual manifestations, such as ringing of bells, tooting 
of a horn, hands at cabinet window, etc., take place. 
After this is repeated a few times, the medium comes 


forth entirely free from the ropes, which he now 
holds in his hands devoid of knots. Of course, the 
medium is really the cause of all the demonstrations, 
and to accomplish the results he must free himself. 
Now, let us see how it is done. The first hand is 
tied fair and square, but when he places his two 
hands behind his back, that's the time the trick 
is done. In placing his hands behind his back, and 
before turning around, with back toward the audi- 
ence, he catches up a little slack of the rope, and, 
pressing the two hands together, manages not to 
lose that slack as the two hands are tied together. 
Another plan is employed so as to be certain not to 
allow this slack to get away from the medium. In 
the act of placing the hands behind the back, one part 
of the rope is allowed to go around the middle fin- 
ger. The ends are then crossed, A going behind B, 
before the right hand is placed against left. Of course, 
the right hand covers the rope, or false tie, com- 
pletely. When the hand is to be released, the finger 
has simply to bend down, and off drops the slack 
part of the rope, and gives plenty of room to draw 
the hand from the loop. With one hand free, it is 
easy to produce the desired manifestations, also to 
release the other hand, and then completely untie 
the rope. Now, whenever the committee cannot be 
influenced to tie in the above manner, they are 
allowed to proceed as they wish. Very few per- 
sons can tie a medium securely with the stiff rope 
furnished. The medium will manage, by slight con- 
tortion of his body, to secure a little slack rope, 
by which agency square knots can be easily upset 
into a slip or running knot, and, when he fails in this. 


the rope is deliberately cut with the little knife blade 
on belt, as described previously. This destroyed 
rope is now concealed on the medium, and he takes 
also from his clothes a similar rope and walks out of 
the cabinet with it, stating the spirits had released 
him. He again retires to the cabinet, and, in a short 
time, he is found retied, with his hands behind his 
back, securely fastened. Here is the explanation: 
When he enters the cabinet, he allows both ends of 
the rope to hang down, holding the rope 
in center; the rope now, in its doubled 
condition, has a knot tied near its double 
end, leaving a knot and loop. (Fig. 36.) 
Then a single knot, tied in each portion 
of the rope, each side of this loop knot, far 
enough away so as to give length enough 
for the ropes to encircle the wrists, and 
these single knots come up hard against 
the loop knot. The ends of the rope are. 
now run through the loop knot, and two 
loops are thus formed, which can be made pj^ 36.— 
larger, as desired, to slip the hands out. The First 
(Fig. 37.) The ends ot the rope are now Knot, 
run down through holes in the chair seat, 
and ends fastened, and the medium inserts his wrists 
in the loop and pulls up taut, and he is ready 
for an investigation. It will readily be seen the me- 
dium can now do as he pleases, remove his coat, 
place on a borroAved one, etc. 

Another tie frequently used is that in which the 
medium seats himself in a chair, takes the rope, and 
ties it around his legs at the knees, with the single 
knot on top. On this he places his two hands, close 


together, and has the committee tie his hands with 
as many knots as they please, from which he never- 
theless frees himself. The whole scheme lies in the 
fact that the medium tied but one knot around the 
legs, but did not pull it deep into the flesh. When 
the knots are tied over his hands, he keeps the legs 

Fig. 37. — The Double Loop. 

a trifle apart. Now, to release himself, he simply 
has to draw his legs together, and strain on the ropes, 
so they sink into the legs a trifle, and let all the 
slack go above the single knot, thus giving room for 
the hands to be withdrawn. By forcing the hands 
apart, the desired slack is easily taken up. 



Post Tests, Handcuffs, Collars, etc. 

The *• Spiritualistic Post Test** is one of the latest 
and most successful of mechanical fastenings used by 
mediums. The most common form is made of what 
appears to be a piece of joist. This is given to the 
committee, one of whose members bores a hole 
through it, near its upper end, and then passes an 
ordinary rope through the hole, a knot being tied 
in the rope on each side of the post. The knots are 
pressed against the post, so that the rope cannot be 
drawn through the post. The ends of the rope 
are now unraveled, and the post is fastened to the 
floor with spikes. The medium is tied to the post 
by the unraveled ends of the rope A nail is driven 
in the top of the post, and a rope is secured to it. 
This second rope is held by the committee; after 
the curtains are drawn, bells are rung, etc., show- 
ing that the medium has the use of his hands. The 
trick consists in boring a hole in the center of the 
end of the joist ; a chisel is then inserted in the 
hole, and the opening is closed with glue and saw- 
dust tinted with water color. The medium starts 
the bit, so that there is no danger of. the committee 
boring the hole too low, or so high that it will 
strike the chisel. When the nail is driven in, it 
forces the chisel down and cuts the rope. The me- 
dium may now ring bells, etc. After he is through 
ringing the bells, he puts back the ends of the rope 
in the post. 


There is another very good rope and mechanical 
post test sometimes used by mediums. A post in an 
upright position is securely fastened to the floor. In 

Fig. 38.— Tlie Trick Post. 

I. Lead weight with notch. 
I. Spring catch. 

3. Hole In catch by which cord is Kcured. 

4. RoU«r over which eoid, 5, runs; cord is attached at one end, j, 

to spriiiE oatch. and at other end at 6 to bolt Id angle piece. 

the upper part of the post a hole is bored clear 
through, to allow of two small ropes being passed 
through the opening from side to side. The medium 


passes the ropes through the post, then invites the 
committee to tie his hands fast against the post, and 
then to tie or nail the ends of the rope down on the 
floor. All the usual manifestations take place. The 
medium is also instantaneously released, and rope 
and knots are found undisturbed. By glancing at 
Fig. 38 the mystery will be cleared up. The 
post is hollow, and carries a leaden or iron weight. 
This weight has a horizontally extending passage to 
correspond with the channel in the post. This weight 
is held in the top part of the post by a catch, which 
is released by a projecting bolt-head at the bottom 
of the post. It will be remembered that the post is 
made fast to the floor by screws passing through 
angle irons fastened by bolts to the post. It is one 
of these bolt-heads that releases the catch. At the 
bottom of the post is another catch, which will also 
hold the weight at the bottom. The one bolt will 
release both catches. The medium runs the ropes 
through the post, releases the catch, which allows 
weight to drop, carrying ropes with it ; and the 
catch locks the weight at the bottom of the post. 
They can now tie the medium. All he has to do is 
to release the weight ; he can then pull the rope up 
and get as large a slack as he desires, allowing the 
weight to drop back again. There is a chair — an 
ordinary-looking wooden kitchen chair — worked on 
somewhat the same style. There is a hole bored 
through each rear leg or upright of the back. The 
medium sits on the chair, facing the back of it, and 
has a hand tied to each upright. The slack is ob 
tained the same as in the post, with the exception 
that a spring instead of a weight is used, and it is 


locked or released by the backward or forward 
sliding of a portion of the chair-seat. 

A convincing trick often employed is the iron 
ring test. The medium and investigator sit oppo- 
site each other, clasping their hands. An iron 
ring is now placed on the medium's lap, and the 
cabinet door is closed ; in a few moments the door 
is opened again, and the ring is found on the inves- 
tigator's arm, although he has never released his 
hold of the medium's hand. The medium has con- 
cealed in his coat sleeve a duplicate of the ring 
used. When the cabinet door is closed, the medium 
spreads his legs apart, allowing the ring to drop on 
the seat of his chair, the bottom of which should be 
of cane or of cloth, in order to avoid the noise due 
to the dropping of the ring. He now replaces his 
legs, and, of course, this ring is hidden merely by 
his sitting on it. The ring in his sleeve he tosses 
on to the skeptic's arm, and, of course, without the 
hands being unclasped. 

The handcuff trick is always a great favorite with 
the medium. He has no objection to placing his 
hands in any pair of handcuflFs furnished by the au- 
dience. A few moments after he has entered the 
cabinet, he begins throwing out various articles of 
clothing; but, on examination, the handcuffs are 
found to be still on his wrists. It is impossible to 
see how he could have taken off his coat. As a 
final test the medium comes out of the cabinet hold- 
ing the handcuffs in his hand still locked. There 
are only a few styles of handcuffs made, and all the 
medium has to do is to secure the proper key for 
each style. He conceals these keys on his person, 


and by the aid of his fingers and teeth the proper 
key can be fitted to the handcuffs. It is impossible, 
with some types of handcuflFs, to get the fingers to 
the keyhole. If such a pair are placed on the per- 
former, and he cannot use his teeth to hold the key, 
he slips the key into a convenient crack in the cabi- 
net or in the chair. The lock of the handcuflFs being 
forced on to the key, the handcuflFs can then be 
readily unlocked. 

The spirit collar is also a favorite instrument of 
the medium. It consists of a brass collar which fits 
closely about the performer's neck. Through the 
openings in the end of the collar, is placed a chain. 
After the collar is on the performer's neck, the chain 
is placed around a post and carried back and 
through the padlock used to lock the collar. By 
this arrangement the performer is securely fastened 
to a post ; but after he is concealed by the use of any 
convenient means, he suddenly appears before the 
audience minus the collar, while the collar will be 
found locked, as before. The trick depends for its 
success on the series of bolts with which the collar 
is studded. The bolts, with one exception, are all 
false, being pieces of metal simply screwed into the 
top and bottom of the collar, and not penetrating 
through them. One bolt, however, passes through 
the collar and engages the two parts thereof; the 
parts terminate in a tongue which fits in the socket 
in the other half of the collar. The bolt passes 
through this tongue so accurately that there is no 
danger of its being removed with the fingers. The 
performer uses a small wrench to remove the bolt. 

There are numerous other devices, such as trick 


bolts, which are inserted by a spectator through a 
post and screwed up tight, the medium being fast- 
ened to the bolt. He has simply to give the bolt 
a half twist, usually toward the right, and the bolt 
comes apart. The joint is Invisible to the eye, and, 
in fact, is made more so just before it is used each 
time by being rubbed with sandpaper, which slightly 
roughens the bolt, making the joint imperceptible 
to the naked eye. There are staples, ordinary look- 
ing staple-plates, which are apparently screwed fast 
into the bench on which the medium is seated. The 
hands of the medium are fastened to the staples by 
wire. The staples are not fastened to the plates by 
riveting them, as is ordinarily done, but are held by 
a spring catch, concealed under the plate, and work- 
ing in a notch in the staple. This is released by the. 
medium's pushing the catch back by the insertion of 
a piece of clock spring between the staple plate 
and the bench. After releasing himself he performs 
the stereotyped manifestations, and at the finish has 
simply to jam the staples back into their plate, where- 
upon they are locked or held fast by the spring catch 
or bolt. This was a device used by a Boston me- 

There are also trick bags in which the medium is 
bound up or tied. In one style of bag there is a 
string running in the selvage, or turned-over portion 
of the bag at the top. As the string is about to be 
drawn taut the medium inserts one of his fingers 
into a portion of this selvage not sewn, and pulls 
down enough slack of the cord to allow him, after the 
tying, either to place his arm through or to get out 
entirely. Another style is this : The medium has a 


round wooden plug, covered with cloth like the bag. 
This he has concealed about him. As the mouih of 
the bag is gathered together to tie the string, the 
medium inserts this plug, and bag and plug are both 
tied. After the tying he has simply to remove the 
plug and he can then place his hand through and re- 
lease the cord, or shove it off the bag completely. 
Still another way is to have a duplicate bag con- 
cealed down one trousers leg and coming up at the 
back of the neck under the coat, the mouth of the 
bag being upward. When the medium gets in, his 
manager or the director of the s6ance gathers the 
mouth of the baCg together, and, at the same time, 
pulls the duplicate bag out from under the medium's 
coat. He pulls this up four or five inches higher than 
the original bag and ties his handkerchief around 
where the two bags are joined, so the trick will not 
be detected. He then allows a committee to tie, and 
even sew, the bag together — of course, the duplicate, 
not the first one. The medium has simply to pull 
the first bag down around him, get out of it and 
conceal it on his body. A " dodge '* used sometimes 
is to borrow one of the investigators' handkerchiefs 
and drop it into the duplicate bag ; and, after the 
medium has escaped and the bag is given for inspec- 
tion, the bag is opened and the handkerchief found 
inside. This strengthens the effect of the trick, inas- 
much as it convinces the onlookers that the medium 
certainly must have been got out by the aid of 
spirits, as the handkerchief — a very small article, in 
comparison to the body of the medium — could not 
be removed until the string had been released from 
the bag. 


Mediums are great judges of human nature; they 
know full well the usual action of the human mind, 
the direction the thoughts are liable to travel in. 
This is part of their stock-in-trade — to try to do 
just such things as the handkerchief ** dodge/* in 
order to convince the skeptic of the truth of the 
wonders witnessed. 



Seances and Miscellaneous Spirit Tricks. 

A test which made the Eddy Brothers famous 
was their " light " and " dark '* stances. Horatio 
Eddy gave what he termed a "light s6ance/* and 
William was famous for the "dark s6ance.** In- 
stead of using a cabinet of wood, Horatio formed 
one simply by stretching a couple of shawls or 
curtains across a corner of the room, thus making a 
triangular inclosure. A table containing the usual 
musical instruments, bells, tambourine, guitar, etc., 
is placed in this space. The medium sits on a chair 
in front of this curtain, to the left hand side. Next 
to him, on his right, sits a gentleman selected from 
the audience, and to the right of this gentleman, a 
lady similarly chosen. William Eddy now pins 
across the breasts of the two gentlemen a third shawl, 
attaching the ends to the curtain. (Fig. 39 ) Previ- 
ously to this, however, Horatio has grasped with both 
his hands the gentleman's left arm ; the lady is re- 
quested to grasp the gentleman's right arm. In this 
position neither can make a movement but what one 
of the others would be immediately cognizant of it. 
Presently there is a commotion among the articles on 
the table behind the screen; they appear floating 
in the air above the top of the curtains, some coming 
through and tapping the trio on the head. A hand 
comes through the curtain and writes a message on 
the slate held by William Eddy. Numerous other 
tests are performed — all in subdued light, not dark- 


Fig. 39.— The Light Stance. 

ness. Now, to raise the veil from this mystery : In 
grasping the left arm of the person in the center, the 
medium first grasps the gentleman's left arm with his, 


the medium's, left hand, fingers being spread apart as 
far as possible. With this hand he presses quite 
hard, and takes a light hold of the same arm, but 
above the left hand. If the medium gently and care- 
fully removes the right hand, the action cannot, by 
sense of touch, be detected. Sometimes, so as to en- 
able him to use both hands, another ruse is also em- 
ployed. A piece of heavy sheet lead is cut in the 
shape of the medium's hand. This is placed in his 
left hand. With this hand he grasps the skeptic's 
arm. Being made of lead, the hand easily conforms 
or bends to the shape of the arm, and, what is more, 
if the real hand of the medium be quietly removed, 
the leaden hand remains behind, giving the same sense 
of touch as if the actual hand were there. (Fig. 40.) 
Of course, with the hands free, the medium can 
stealthily glide between the curtains, grasp and man 
ipulate the instruments, and throw them to the floor, 
immediately replacing his hands gently. 

A rather clever test used in a dark seance, given by 
Miss Annie Eva Fay, is one in which the hands are 
not bound. Miss Fay made cotton, bandage and tape- 
ties a success, and sometimes varied her s6ance 
by not using a tie, but by continually clapping her 
hands together during the darkness. She also had 
her mouth filled with water. Nevertheless, the usual 
manifestations occurred. The horn ** tooted," the 
tambourine and guitar floated, bells rang, etc. The 
dodge she employed was this : Instead of clapping 
her hands together, she slapped one against her fore- 
head, which gave the same sound, and gave her one 
hand at liberty. She also swallowed the water. She 
was now at liberty to blow the horn, ring bells or 


the like. When she was finished, she refilled her 
mouth with water from a bottle concealed on her 

Fig. 40. — The Mystery Explained. 

person, and again resumed, clapping her hands to- 
gether instead of striking one hand against her fore- 
head. An investigator suspected the idea of the 


water and once came prepared with a glass of milk, 
which he requested the medium to use instead. She 
consented. The horn tooted just the same, and 
the medium's mouth still contained the riiilk. She 
had simply inserted the end of the horn in one of 
her nostrils. Another time she merely emptied 
the liquid into one of the hand bells on the table 
and held it upside down in her lap. Still another 
" wrinkle *' is the use of a rubber ball with a hole in 
it. This can readily be attached to the horn, and 
squeezing the ball does the tooting. 

Dr. Henry Slade was, of course, identified and 
recognized as the principal slate-writing medium, 
but at various times he presented other phenomena, 
one of which was the playing of an accordion 
while held in one hand under the table. The ac- 
cordion was taken by him from the table with his 
right hand,. at the end containing the strap, the keys 
or notes at the other end being away from him. He 
thus held the accordion beneath the table, and his 
left hand was laid on top of the table, where it was 
always in. plain view. Nevertheless, the accordion 
was heard to give forth melodious tunes, and at the 
conclusion was brought up on top of the table as 
held originally ; the whole dodge consisting in turn- 
ing the accordion end for end as it went under the 
table. The strap end being now downward, and held 
between the legs, the medium's hand grasped the 
keyboard end, and worked the bellows and keys, hold- 
ing the accordion firmly with the legs and working 
the hand, not with an arm movement, but mostly by 
a simple wrist movement. Of course, at the conclu- 
sion, the hand grasped the accordion at the strap end. 


and brought it up in this condition. Sometimes an 
accordion is tied with strings and sealed so the bel- 
lows cannot be worked. This is for the dark seance. 
Even in this condition the accordion is played by 
inserting a tube in the air-hole or valve and by the 
medium's using his lungs as bellows. 

In regard to dark stances and materializations, I 
would state that they are so barefaced and bold it is 
hardly worth while to worry about them. What 
cannot be done in the dark ? Spirit costumes, to be 
donned later by the medium to impersonate people 
from the other world, are concealed in strange places 
under the very eyes of the investigators — in the 
body of the guitar, in a drum, about the person of 
one of the circle of skeptics, who is really a confeder- 
ate, or behind the surface of a wall. Time and place 
make all the difference in the method of work used 
by mediums. In their homes mediums have any 
number of accomplices, who enter the room under 
cover of darkness by various means — one way, by 
means of a trap in the floor. This opens upwardly ; 
the carpet does not have to be cut, and can also 
be well tacked down. The trap is not cut square, 
but triangularly, across the two sides of the room in 
one corner. Through this trap the confederates, dis- 
guised as spirits, enter from the cellar below and 
vanish. Another method is to gain admittance from 
an adjoining room. Between the two rooms are 
sliding doors, misnamed ** folding " doors. The space 
in one of the walls is not only large enough to re- 
ceive its own single door, but also a portion of the 
other. Before commencing the s6ance, the doors 
are locked and the key kept by a committee. The 


doors are also sealed with court plaster across their 
joints, and said court plaster sealed with sealing- 
wax. The confederates are not obliged to push the 
doors apart ; they simply slide both at the same time 
toward the side previously mentioned. This side 
receives one door and a portion of the other, thus 
leaving an opening for a person slyly to creep 

Sometimes, in the circle of investigators, there 
are five or six confederates. Three of these are 
placed or seated together. Now, if all in the circle 
join hands, it seems no one could assist the medium 
without the fact being discovered ; but in the center, 
one of three confederates, sitting together, releases 
the hands of his companions, and, in the dark, " cuts 
up *' all the tricks he wishes and returns to the circle 
again, no one being any the wiser. Of course, if one 
confederate were seated between two of the skeptics, 
he would not dare let go his hands; but when a 
friend is placed each side of him, it makes no differ- 
ence. A test often used, when everybody, medium- 
included, is sitting at a table, is the wire test. A 
copper wire is threaded through the shirt sleeve of 
every male member present, and through the sleeve 
of the ladies' dresses, the wire being fastened to the 
table by staples. When the lights are put out, the 
spirits *' raise Cain " again. It is the medium again. 
The wire did not go through his shirt sleeves, but 
through two short extra shirt sleeves, or cuffs, which 
he wears over the real sleeves. All he has to do is 
to slip out of these, produce the manifestations, and 
slip back into the cuffs again. 

A test that caused more talk and wonderment than 


all the rest of the cabinet tricks combined is the chair 
and net test. The medium enters a very small cabinet, 
just large enough to contain him when sitting down 
in a chair. The cabinet is closed by a single door, 
locked with a padlock, the keyhole of which is 
sealed ; the door is also sealed all around the 
edges, A fish-net so finely meshed that even 
the finger of the medium could not be pushed 
through, is now placed over this cabinet and tacked 
to it all around the bottom. This miniature cabi- 
net is set in the cabinet proper, and a chair, with 
the usual bell, tambourine, etc., placed beside it. 
Doors are closed, and immediately the fun begins. 

Bells, tambourine, and 
horns all play together. 
A sudden fall of the chair 
and instruments is heard, 

^. ^ J T^i r ^^^ the cabinet doors 

Fig. 41. — Ground Plan of , . . 

Cabinet. being opened, every- 

thing is found strewn 
about ; the smaller cabinet is, however, still found 
as it was left, with the netting over it and seals 
undisturbed. Again the large cabinet is closed, 
and almost immediately it is opened from the in- 
side, and out walks the medium ; and the netting 
on the smaller cabinet is examined once more, and 
likewise the padlock and seals, everything is found 
intact. The whole trick depends upon the con- 
struction of the smaller cabinet. Fig. 41 represents a 
ground plan of the apparatus. The floor is not nailed 
or fastened to the sides. There are four battens or 
strengthening pieces, one in each corner of the cabi- 
net, running from top to bottom ; these are securely 


fastened to the floor, but not to the sides of the cabi- 
net. Over these battens is laid a strip of wood 
that is really made fast to the cabinet. This leaves 
in each corner a socket or pocket the height of the 
cabinet, and in these work, telescopic fashion, the 
four battens which are made fast to the bottom. 

Fig. 42. — The Trick Cabinet. 

The bottom is set inside ol the cabinet, not on the 
outside. It is only tacked to the sides of the 
bottom of cabinet. It will now be readily observed 
that the medium has only to stand up in order 
to raise the main part of the cabinet quite a height 
above the bottom, as seen at Fig. 42. It is held in the 


above position by a concealed catch. The medium 
can now produce manifestations, and, as he is about 
to drop the cabinet back into the bottom, he gives 
the leg of the chair a jerk and over it goes, and dowi> 
drops the cabinet. There is also a catch that auto- 
matically locks the bottom firm to the cabinet, so as 
to allow inspection of the same. 

The above manifestation was in use long before the 
wire cage test, and is considered by some mediums 
more convincing than the latter. While speaking 
about the wire cage test, I may as well describe one 
form of it. There are numerous makes, but the one 
explained will serve as a sample of the rest. A cage 
composed of uprights and cross-bars of iron is made 
fast to an iron frame containing a small door through 
which the medium enters. Sometimes the door is 
done away with and the bottom of the cage is sepa- 
rated from it. The medium sits on this bottom, and 
the cage is lifted and placed over him. The bottom 
and cage are padlocked together or bound with wires 
and sealed. 

No matter what method is used, the results are the 
same ; the medium can play the instruments or es- 
cape, as he may see fit. The wire cage is, we shall 
say, of a design similar to that shown in Fig. 43. 
There is no door to it, and the cage being 
secured by a wire bottom padlocked on or nailed 
fast to the floor. A close inspection of Fig. 44 
will help to expose the fraud. The lower cross- 
bar is not riveted through the frame at its end, but 
ends square against it, and a false rivet head, hav- 
ing no connection with it, is riveted on the frame 
where this cross-bar is supposed to emerge. All of 


the upright rods are made fast only to this cross-bar. 
In the other cross-bars they simply go through holes, 
not closely, but loosely, to ensure then to be 
slid up and down. The tops of these rods are riv- 
eted, but not made fast to the frame at the top The 
center rod is not made permanent in the lower cross- 

Pig. 43-— The Wire Cage. 

bar, but is fastened so it can be turned around one way 
or the other. Now, where all these rods are supposed 
to come through the lower part of the iron frame are 
rivet-heads representing the heads of the rods, should 
they have come through. The bottom frame is drilled 
half way through for the end of each rod to enter a 


little, the middle rod is tapped with a thread like a 
screw on its end, and its corresponding hole is also tap- 
ped. It will now be seen why this rod was left to turn. 
By pulling cross-bar down and then screwing this 
middle rod tight, everything is solid ; but unscrew the 
rod and raise the cross-bar, and all the upright rods 

Fig. 44. — The Cage Opened. 

will travel with it and the medium is at liberty. And 
we have another spirit mystery laid bare. I could 
describe numerous other tricks and devices of a like 
nature, but a few are as good as a quantity ; sufficient, 
in fact, to place the investigator on his guard against 
being duped by like contrivances. 


I believe a few words in regard to spirit photo- 
graphy will not be amiss. These are made or pro- 
duced in various ways : First, a glass with an image 
on it of the desired spirit lorra could be placed in the 
plate holder, in front of the sensitive plate, so that 
the image on the glass would act on the sensi- 
tive plate. The size and distinctness of the re- 
sulting spirit form would vary according to the dis- 
tance between the two plates. Second, a figure 
clothed in white -can be introduced for a moment be- 
hind the sitter and then be withdrawn before the sit^ 
ting is over, leaving a shadowy image on the plate. 
Third, a microscopic picture of the spirit form can be 
inserted in the camera box alongside of the lens, and 
by a small magnifying lens its image can be thrown 
on the sensitive plate with that of the sitter. This is 
the trick used when the skeptic brings his own plate 
for the negative. Fourth, a glass with the spirit 
image can be placed behind the sensitive plate after 
the sitting is completed, and afterward, by a feeble 
light, the image can be impressed upon the plate 
with that of the sitter. Fifth, the silver nitrate 
bath could have a glass side, and the image im- 
pressed by a secret light while the glass plate 
apparently was being coated with the sensitive film. 
Sixth, the spirit form can be printed first on the neg- 
ative and then the living sitter by a second print- 
ing, or the spirit can be printed on the paper 
and the sitter's portrait printed over it. Seventh, 
a sensitive plate can be prepared by what is known 
as the dry process, the spirit form being impressed 
on it; and then, at a subsequent time, the portrait of 
the living sitter can be taken on this same plate, so 


that the two will develop together. Eighth, take a 
solution of sulphate of quinine and paint on the back- 
ground screen a picture of any one ; when it dries it 
is invisible to the naked eye. Still, when the picture 
is taken, the painted picture is very plainly seen on 
the glass negative. Ninth, small pictures are taken 
on thin, transparent celluloid and fastened against the 
front lens of the camera, and when the photograph is 
taken the picture appears. Of course, the above are 
by no means all the methods, but enough to illus- 
trate the possibilities of obtaining two pictures on the 
same plate or at one sitting. 



Miscellaneous Tricks. 
The " Magician's Omelette.*' 

The magician has never proved himself an adept 
at the art of cooking, from an epicure's standpoint; 
yet the ease with which he can bake cakes in bor- 
rowed hats and cook omelettes in empty pans has 
long been a source of wonder to the economical 
housewife, as well as to the professional cook. 

To see the magician hold a small, shallow, empty 
pan over the blaze of a spirit lamp for a few mo- 
ments, when an omelette, done to a turn, appears in 
the pan and is cut up and distributed to the audi- 
ence, one is almost convinced that at least one per- 
son has solved that most perplexing of all problems 
— how to live without work. 

But has he solved it ? No ! my friend, no more 
than you or I. He has merely deceived you ; but 
most cleverly, you must admit. 

The pan is without any preparation whatever ; but 
as much cannot be said of the wand, which he is con- 
tinually stirring around in the pan. This wand is 
hollow, with an opening at one end only ; and in the 
wand, previous to the trick, of course, are placed the 
properly seasoned ingredients of an omelette, after 
which the end is closed with a metal plug that is 
turned and enameled to correspond with the oppo- 
site end of the wand. 

When the pan is being examined the performer is 
holding the wand in his hand, and such an innocent- 


appearing black stick is never suspected of being in 
any way connected with the trick. 

Just before holding the pan over the lamp the per 
former finds it a most easy matter to remove the 
plug from the end of the wand, when, by holding the 
wand by the closed end, he can empty the contents 
into the pan in the mere act of passing the open end 
of the wand around the inside of the pan. (Fig. 45.) 

Fiff, 45. — The "Magician's Omelette." 

The metal of which the pan is made being thin, 
and there not being a great quantity of the omelette, 
assisted by a large flame from the lamp, it only re- 
quires a few moments to cook the omelette, when it 
is turned out on a plate and carried down to the 

It is hardly necessary to say that when the cooked 
omelette is carried down, the wand is left on the 


stand, which prevents any inquisitive person asking 
to see it. 

Spinning and Balancing Tricks. 

The spinning handkerchief is a great favorite with 
jugglers. A handkerchief is borrowed, thrown in 

Fig. 46. — -Tlie Spinning Handkerchief. 

the air and caught on the end of a whirling stick held 
by the juggler, when the handkerchief spreads out 
to its full size and commences to spin around rapidly. 
The secret is that in the end of the stick a needle is 
inserted about one-quarter of an inch, leaving the 


sharp end out. When the handkerchief is caught on 
the end of the whirling stick the needle point passes 
through it, thus preventing its falling off the stick, 
which is rapidly whirled around, and the handker- 
chief will spread out and spin about on the end of 
the stick. 

Jugglers are very partial to tricks performed with 
eggs, and spinning an egg on its smaller end is a 
trick they are almost sure to perform. It is impos- 

Fig. 47.— Spinning an Egg. 

sible to spin a raw egg ; so our juggler uses a hard- 
boiled one, and spins it on its small end in a shallow 
japanned tray. If the tray is kept gently moving in 
a small circle in the opposite direction to that in 
which the egg is spinning, the latter will continue to 
spin as long as desired. (Fig. 47.) 

The egg spinning trick is usually followed by a 
balancing trick in which a playing card is balanced 
upon a small wand, and an egg is then balanced on 
a corner of the card. This trick usually calls forth 


a great pretension of skill on the part of the per- 
former, when, in reality, no skill whatever is re- 

The wand is of ebony, or some dark wood, and 
about three inches from one end is a small hole. 
The egg is made oi wood, painted white, and with a 
small hole in one end. The card is composed of two 
cards glued together, with a fine steel wire between 
them, running diagonally from corner to comer of 
the card, with the ends of the wire projecting about 
a quarter of an inch. The prepared egg is on a plate 

Fig. 48. — Balancing Card and Egg on Wand. 

with several ordinary eggs, and the card is placed on 
a pack of common cards. The wand is held in one 
hand, the card taken in the other and apparently bal. 
anced on one corner on the wand : but in reality the 
wire point is placed in the hole in the wand. Now 
the assistant passes the prepared egg to the juggler, 
who carefully balances it upon the comer of the 
card ; that is, slips the hole in the end of the egg 
over the w ire point projecting from the card. 

A fitting finale to such a juggling act is that in 
which a potato is placed on the hand of the assistant 


and cut in two with a sharp sword, without leaving 
any mark upon the skin. As a general thing, a sec- 
ond potato is then cut upon the throat of the assist- 
ant. This apparently marvelous mastery of the 
sword always brings forth great applause. 

Among the several medium-sized sound potatoes 
on a tray are placed two potatoes prepared as fol- 
lows: Insert a needle crosswise of the potato near 
the bottom. After showing the sword to be really 
sharp, by cutting paper and slicing one or two oi 

Fig. 49. — Cutting a Potato on the Hand. 

the potatoes, the pertormer picks up one of the pre- 
pared potatoes and places it on the assistant's hand ; 
but apparently it does not He to suit him, so he slices 
off one side of it, using care to cut away the side just 
under the needle and as close to it as possible, then 
places the potato once again on the assistant's hand. 
After making a few flourishes with the sword, he 
cuts through the potato, dividing it in half. (Fig. 49,) 
In striking the potato with the sword he makes 
sure that the sword will come exactly crosswise on 
the needle; consequently, when the sword reaches 


the needle it can go no farther, and the brittle nature 
of the potato will cause it to fall apart, the very thin 
portion below the needle offering no resistance to the 
separation. The second potato is then cut in the 
same manner on the assistant's neck. There are 
many other false juggling tricks, but the above will 
suffice to show that " there are tricks in all trades 
but yours." 

The Blindfolded Juggler. 

While watching the clever manner in which a 
good juggler passes various articles from hand to 
hand, how many peof^ ever give a thought to the 
many hours of practice devoted to even the sim- 
plest trick that he performs? To become even a 
passable juggler, many weary months of constant 
practice are necessary. There are tricks in all 
trades, and some of the most successful entertainers 
in this line can scarcely do a half dozen genuine feats 
of juggling, yet they are great favorites with the pub- 
lic. It has been truly said that ** the tricks that re- 
quire the most practice are the least appreciated by 
the average spectator." It is our intention merely to 
show how a simple trick has won fame for several 
well-known jugglers. 

This is the trick of juggling blindfolded. An as- 
sistant tightly binds a heavy handkerchief over the 
juggler s eyes, and then, to make sure that he cannot 
see, there is placed over his head and shoulders a sort 
of bag, made of heavy goods, which should exclude 
all light, even if his eyes were not tightly bound with 
the handkerchief. Regardless of this, the juggler 
performs the usual passes with balls and knives. Yet, 


when the bag is removed, the bandage over his eyes 
is found undisturbed. (Fig. 50.) 
The explanation is simple. The bag is made of the 

Fig. 50. — The Blindfolded Juggler 

usual coarse bagging, and a few threads are pulled 
out of the part that will come in front of the juggler's 
face when the bag is over his head, thus allowing 


him to see between the remaining threads as though 
looking through a coarse screen. (Fig. 51.) 

When the bag is being placed over his head, and 
during the seeming efiort of 
passing the arms through the 
armholes in the bag, the per- 
former or assistant has no 
trouble in pushing the hand- 
kerchief up from the eyes to 
the forehead, thus allowing 
him to see through the open 

work of the bag. In remov- Fig 5 r -The Illusion 
ing the bag after the act. Explained. 

there is no trouble in pulling the handkerchief down 
over the eyes. 

The Chinese Rods and Cords. 

Nothing excites curiosity in the public mind more 
than a simple and clever puzzle, and the " Fifteen 

Fig. 52. — Chinese Rods and Cords. 

Puzzle" and "Pigs in Clover" have given enjoy- 
ment to hundreds of thousands. The Chinese rods 


and cords, which forms the subject of our engrav- 
ings, is in the line of ingenious inventions, and is 
really more in the nature of a trick than a toy. (Fig. 

It is of Chinese origin, and the example shown in 
our engraving was purchased in Chinatown, San 
Francisco, Cal. The puzzle consists of eight pieces 
of bamboo or hollow ivory tubes, each containing 
seven holes spaced equidistantly. Through these 
holes are seen to pass seven silken cords, each with a 
bead at the top and a tassel at the bottom. The toy 
is held by the loop at the top, which serves to hold 
the upper rod. When it is first picked up, its condi- 
tion is shown in our first engraving at the left. 
There are seven of the rods at the top and one at 
the bottom. Now the lower bar of the upper set is 
moved down to the bar at the bottom ; the two lower 
bars will appear to be supported by three cords at 
the center, as shown in our engraving, four of the 
cords having vanished. If the next bar is brought 
down, another change is observed, only the two 
outer cords being seen. This is shown to the right 
of our engraving. If the next bar is brought down, 
the end cords have approached the center, and five 
of the seven cords have vanished. The next rod 
brought down brings five cords into view, the two 
end ones and the center one being visible. When 
the next bar is pulled down, the center and the outer 
cords only remain ; so that, if all the bars between 
the top and bottom bars are brought together, 
the seven cords appear to pass entirely through 
them. Fig. 53 gives a clew to the mystery. The 
rods are all hollow, and each contains seven holes ; 


and our engraving shows the course of the silk 
cords. It will be noticed that where a number of 
cords pass through a single 
hole, the strand w h i c li 
is formed is much thicker 
than are the single cords ; 
as they are of different 
colors, the effect is most 
pleasing. It will be ob- 
served that the strings go 
clear through the top bar ; 
but in the next bar,although 
they enter the seven holes 
at the top, they emerge 
from three holes at the bot- 
tom, three of the strands 
going through the center 
hole and two through each 
of the end holes, and so on 
throughout the entire num- 
ber of bars, the strings 
changing their course, as 
is clearly shown in our en- 
graving, thus causing the 
increase and decrease in ^''«- 53— The illusion 

their number. 


The "Surprise" Pen. 

Our engraving shows a very clever trick pen 
which would tend to create great surprise among the 
uninitiated. Let us suppose that a gentleman is 
seated at his desk and is busily writing when a neigh. 


bor comes in, and he jokingly challenges the latter 
to try and forge his signature. He hands the 

pen to his friend, who attempts to write. Immedi- 
ately there is an explosion, and the paper receives a 


big ink blot The writer is apt to be surprised by 
the report, which is like a pistol shot, and, if a timid 
person, is apt to be frightened. The noise comes 
from the pen itself, as it is so constructed that it can 
be loaded and shot oflF at will. The person in the 
secret can handle the pen with safety, but the poor 
unfortunate will experience a rather unexpected 
shock to his nerves when he attempts to write with it. 

The upper part of the penholder, into which an 
ordinary writing pen is thrust, works on a pivot 
about half way down its length. This separate part 
is provided with only one-half a bottom, in order that 
it may engage the conical head of a piston rod, which 
ends in a plunger, which sets off the cap secured in 
the bottom of the penholder. The normal position 
of the plunger is against the cap of the holder ; but 
it can be raised by means of a projecting pin riveted 
to the rod and passing through a slot cut in the side 
of the lower part of the holder. Now, the closed 
half of the bottom of the pivoted end enters a notch 
caused by the conical head of the plunger ; and the 
plunger, with its spring, is cocked, as it were, by 
means of the projecting pin, and is held in place by 
the bottom of the pivoted section. When the pen is 
pressed to the paper the pivoted section swings on 
the pivot, releasing the plunger, which is forced down 
on the explosive cap by the spring. 

The lower end of the penholder is threaded, so that 
it can secure the end cap firmly in place. The ex- 
plosive cap is put in the end cap, and it is screwed on 
the bottom of the holder. Ordinary paper caps for 
children's pistols are used. As long as the plunger, 
simply rests on the cap there is no danger of an ex 


plosion ; but, just before the joker wishes to give his 
friend a scare, he cocks it by pushing the plunger up 
with the pin, until the pivoted top engages it. 

The " Miraculous Wineglasses." 
As a rule, magicians are very generous fellows. 

Fig- 55-— The "Miraculous Wineglass." 

always ready to give their audiences something, 
such as coins and handkerchiefs, but, just when one 
thinks they have the gift safely in their grasp, it 
mysteriously vanishes. However, there are a few 


exceptions to this rule, one of whom is a very popu- 
lar English performer. 

This magician goes among the audience and b ar- 
rows a gentleman's handerchief, and immediately 
produces from it a glass filled with sherry. This he 
offers to the ladies, then, 
shaking the handkerchief, 
he produces a second glass 
full of port for the gentle- 
men, next one of ginger 
beer for the younger mem- 
bers, and one of milk for 
the very young, but there 
being present one or two 

teetotalers, he next pro- ^'«' se-The Glass 

J I ( . J Covered with Rubber. 

duces a glass 01 water, and 

lastly a glass of stout for himself. All of these are 
pronounced by the audience to be excellent. 

The glasses are of the small stem wineglass pat- 
tern. On both sides of the magician's coat, inside, 
of course, are large pockets, and in each pocket is 
placed in a prearranged form three of the glasses. 
To prevent a possible spilling of their contents (and, 
as each glass is filled to the brim, this would be very 
difficult), there is fastened over the mouth of each 
glass a thin soft rubber cap or cover, as shown in the 
small engraving. 

To produce the glass, the performer spreads the 
borrowed handkerchief, which should be a large one, 
over his breast in such a manner that one hand is 
concealed under it ; and with this hand he reaches in 
the pocket and brings forth the proper glass, remov- 
ing the rubber cover and leaving it in the pocket. 


This move is repeated until all the glasses have been 
brought out. After producing three of the glasses 
with, say, the Left hand, he must spread the hand- 
kerchief so as to corer the right hand, leaving the 
left one free to manipulate the handkerchief, as it 
would be most awkward to try and produce the 

Fig. 57- — The Miraculous Wine Bottle. 

glasses from both sides of the coat with the same 

This trick is a most effective one, as the spectators 
cannot understand how it would be possible for the 
performer to conceal a glass filled to the brim, as 
these are, about his person. 

After distributing the glasses, and offering an 


apology for his inability to treat all present, he pre- 
tends to overhear a remark that his audience is not 
satisfied, and that many think they have been slighted. 
He states that he will endeavor to comply with the 
demands of his thirsty audience, and retires to fetch 
a bottle. Off the stage he removes his coat and 

Fig. 58.— The Miraculous Wine Bottle. 

places under his right arm a rubber bag filled with 
wine. To-the bag is attached a rubber pipe with a 
small metal point, which pipe he holds next to his 
right arm and replaces his coat, leaving the metal 
end just within the cuff. 

The bottle has a small hole in the side, near the 
bottom, of such a size as to fit the metal point on the 


rubber pipe. In rinsing the bottle the performer 
keeps one finger over the hole, thus preventing the 
audience discovering that the bottle differs from an 
ordinary one. In rinsing the bottle the outside has 
become wet, and in drying it with a cloth the per- 
former places the metal point on the rubber, pipe in 
the hole in the side of the bottle, thus making con- 
nections with the bag of wine. By holding the bot- 
tle well down toward the neck, and close to his 
wrist, he can venture among the audience without 
fear of detection. 

By pressing the right arm against his side the bag 
is compressed, forcing the wine through the pipe 
into the bottle. 

The glasses are of special make and of very thick 
glass, making quite a bulky appearance, but of very 
limited capacity. An assistant carries a tray con- 
taining one hundred of the glasses. 

The " Mysterious Vase." 

Tricks performed with ink and water have always 
been favorites with magicians, and they have devised 
means of keeping this trick fully abreast of the times^ 
thus retaining its popularity. The manner of per- 
forming the latest ink trick involves such novel 
principles as to puzzle even those who are well posted 
on modern magic. The " Mysterious Vase " has been 
presented by but few prestidigitateurs, and the secret 
so well guarded that comparatively few people know 
how it is done. (Fig. 59.) 

The attention of the audience is called to a glass 
vase that is filled with water which is resting on a 
light stand. This vase resembles a large octagon 


celery glass. In the vase there are a few cut 
flowers, which the performer removes as he calls 
attention to the vase and the clear water it contains. 

Fig- 59- — ^The "Mysterious Vase." 

The flowers are given to the ladies in the audience, 
as they have no further connection with the trick, 
A lady's handkerchief is borrowed and the vase 


covered with it for a moment. On removing the 
handkerchief, the water that was seen in the vase 
appears to have changed to ink. While this rapid 

Fig. 60. — ^The Illusion Explained. 

transformation is very startling, yet the most mar- 
velous part of the trick is to come. The magician 
bares his forearm, that the audience may see that his 


sleeves have no connection with the trick, and then 
proceeds to remove from the ink in the vase six silk 
handkerchiefs and two lighted candles, each article 
being perfectly dry. 

The means by which this seeming impossibility is 
performed are as simple as the trick is mysterious^ 
as the following will showi In the center of the 
vase, reaching from side to side and from the bot- 
tom to within a half inch of the top, is a piece of pol- 
ished mirror. The side edges of the mirror rest in 
the angles of the vase, and as the vase is only seen 
from the front, the edges are not seen. The front 
half of the vase being reflected in the mirror leaves 
the impression that one is looking directly through 
the vase, when in reality you only see one-half of the 
inside. (Fig. 60.) 

To the back of this mirror is attached a watertight 
tin box, in which are placed six small silk handker- 
chiefs and two candles. The exterior of the box and 
back of the mirror are painted a dead black color. 
Enough water is poured into the vase to reach the 
top edge of the mirror. In the water is dissolved a 
small portion of iron protosulphate. A few cut 
flowers are placed in the vase, which is then placed 
on the stand with the mirror side to the audience^ 
and the candles lighted. 

After the flowers are removed and a handkerchief 
borrowed, the magician secures possession of and 
palms between his fingers a small lozenge made of 
pyrogallic acid, which he drops in the water in front 
of the mirror in the act of covering the vase with 
the handkerchief. In a very few moments the loz- 
enge dissolves, and the pyrogallic acid of which it is 


composed causes the water, which holds in solution 
the iron protosulphate, to change to a good black 

On removing the handkerchief with which the 
vase was covered, ink is seen to have taken the 
place of the water, and from the center of the vase 
the performer removes the silk handkerchiefs and 

Our first engraving shows the vase of water on 
the stand ; the second shows the vase after the water 
has changed to ink, with the magician removing one 
of the silk handkerchiefs. The third illustration 
represents the vase with one side broken away, 
showing attached to the back of the mirror the tin 
receptacle that contains the handkerchiefs and can- 

The "Mermaid's Head.'* 

M. Alber, the prestidigitateur, describes in La 
Nature a variant of a trick which, although old in 
principle, has recently been brought 6ut in a new and 
attractive form. 

Upon a light tripod placed in an alcove or recess 
hung with some sort of a red fabric, such as cotton 
velvet, stands an aquarium in which gold fish are 
observed swimming about, and in the center of which 
is seen a living female head that moves, smiles, and 
seems to be absolutely at its ease, although deprived 
of a body and immersed in water. A reference to the 
figure will show how the apparatus is arranged. 

The tripod consists of three gilded copper rods 
fixed at the bottom to a triangular platform and sup- 


porting at the top another platform of nickel-plated 
metal. At their point of union the three rods, which 

Fig. 6i. — The "Mermaid's Head." 
are firmly brazed to each other, seem to be united by 
a simple ribbon tied with a bow knot. 


From the base to the ribbon there is an empty 
space, but above the latter there are fixed between 
the rods three triangular glass mirrors backed with 
thin and resistant steel plate. The nickel-plated top 
is movable. Previous to the entrance of the specta- 
tors, the woman whose head is to appear, places her- 
self between the mirrors, crosses her legs and rests 
upon her heels. It is impossible for the apparatus to 
topple over, since it is firmly screwed to the floor. 
The nickel-plated top, which is in two pieces, em- 
braces the neck so closely, when put in place, that 
the joint can scarcely be seen at a short distance. 
Since the mirrors reflect the floor, which is covered 
like the walls, it seems as if it were the back of the 
alcove that is visible between the rods at the upper 
part ; and the entire apparatus appears to be abso- 
lutely open. 

As for the aquarium trick, that is simple. The 
aquarium is an adaptation of one that has long been 
found in the market, and in which are perceived 
birds that seem to be flying about in the water amid 

The crystal glass aquarium, which is manufactured 
especially for the purpose, consists of two recep- 
tacles. The central one of these is open at the bot- 
tom to receive the head, while the outer one is open 
at the top and contains the water and fishes. As the 
glass is exceedingly transparent, it is almost impos. 
sibie to detect the empty space in the center. 

The aquarium is placed upon four small nickel- 
plated supports that permit of the introduction of 
air into the internal receptacle. The position of the 
decapitated woman is an exceedingly cramped one, 


and it is therefore necessary for her to make her exit 
from the tnpod between each exhibition in order to 
take a well-earned rest. 

"Card Cricket." 

One of the most eflfective and pretty tricks per- 
formed by the celebrated English magician Mr. 
Devant is known as " Card Cricket." In this trick 
the performer shows his hands empty, and takes a 
pack of cards and requests three ladies to take one 
card each, and to remember what the cards are. 
The cards are then replaced in the pack, which is 
well shuffled and cut by one of the audience. The 
performer then passes for inspection an ordinary 
cricket bat, which,^ on its return, he places on a table 
in full sight of all. He then asks if any one in the 
audience can bowl, and requests the gentleman who 
can, to come and have a game of cricket. 

The performer now asks the gentleman to take 
the pack of cards and bowl at him, and he will be 
the player or one at the wicket. The performer 
picks up the bat and says *' Play." The cards are 
bowled at him, and he hits the pack with the bat as 
the cards are in the air, and, to the astoni^ment of 
the audience, the chosen cards are seen sticking to 
the bat. This very pretty card trick is quite simple 
to work. 

In selecting the cards the ladies were under the 
impression that they exercised their own free will, 
but such was not the case. The pack of cards was 
what is known to magicians as a forcing pack, thai 
is, consisting of only three cards, which, for con- 


venience sake, we wiU say are the ace of clubs, five 
of hearts, and nine of spades, one-third of the pack 
being composed of only one of these cards. The 

Pig. 6a.— "Caid Cricket" 

pack being thus made up, it is very easy for a skill- 
ful performer to present to the first lady the portion 
of the pack containing only ace of clubs, to the sec- 


ond lady the part consisting solely of five of hearts, 
aDd to the third lady the part that contains only nine 
of spades. By using such a forcing pack the per- 

Kgf. 63.— "Card Cricket." 

former is sure to have the proper cards selected. 
While the ladies are examining their cards the per- 
former steps to his table on some pretense and slyly 
changes the forcing pack for an ordinary one con- 


sisting of the usual cards, with the exception of the 
five of hearts, ace of clubs, and nine of spades. This 
pack he hands to some member of the audience and 
requests them to have replaced the selected cards 
and shuffled. 

The cricket bat is an ordinary one, which, after 
being examined by the audience, is laid on a table 
until the performer finds a gentleman who will bowl 
the pack at him. 

In this simple act of la3ring the bat on the table we 
find the principal secret of the trick. 

Previous to beginning the performance the magi- 
cian has placed face down on the table, in a line with 
each other, an ace of clubs, five of hearts, and nine 
of spades. ' The back of each of these cards is lined 
with cloth similar to the covering of the table, thus 
preventing any one noticing the cards when placed 
face down on the table. On the cloth covering of 
each of the cards is smeared a dab of soft adhesive 
wax. In placing the bat on the table, care is taken 
to lay it directly over the three cards, the wax on the 
backs adhering tightly to the bat 

After the gentleman who has consented to bowl 
the pack of cards at the performer is in place, the 
performer picks up the bat, steps back a few feet, 
and says " Play." The instant the flying cards touch 
the bat the performer turns it over, bringing into 
view the side of the bat to which the three cards are 
sticking, which appear to have been caught on the 
bat from the flying cards. 

Until the pack of cards arc thrown against the 
bat, the magician exercises the greatest care not to 
turn the side of the bat to which the cards are stick- 


ing toward the spectators. Properly presented, this 
trick has proved most illusive. 

" Cupid Lighter than a Butterfly." 

The pleasing trick which forms the subject of our 
engravings owes its success to the ingenious applica- 
tion of mechanical principles. The magician pre- 
sents for inspection to the audience a large pair of 
balance scales. The audience is allowed to examine 
the various parts of the balance before it is erected 
on the stage. It consists of a central column and a 
beam resting on a knife-edge, and two pans suspended 
try cords or chains. After the column has been put 
in position, the beam is put on and a pin inserted, 
thus making a center for the beam to work on. A 
gentleman is asked to stand in one of the scale pans, 
and then weights are gradually placed in the other 
pan until his exact weight is ascertained. The 
weights are removed, and the gentleman steps down 
off the stage. The audience is now convinced that 
the scale is to all intents and purposes like the ordi- 
nary balance which is so much used in groceries 
for weighing tea, coffee, etc., although, of course, 
in the present instance, it is built on a mammoth 

The magician now goes on to say that he will prove 
the old assertion that " love is lighter than a butter- 
fly '* to be absolutely true. He introduces a little 
boy dressed as Cupid, with wings and a bow and 
a quiver of arrows. When the child steps on the 
scale pan, it immediately sinks to the floor by his 


weight. The conjurer now takes a butterfly, and, 
asking all to direct their attention to the scale, drops 

it on the opposite pan, which immediately descends 
to the floor, at the same time raising the pan with 
the Cupid high in the air. If he takes the butterfly 


off, the Cupid descends, and every time the presti- 
digitateur replaces the butterfly, Cupid is raised off 
the floor. 

Fig. 65. — The Illusion Explained. 

The trick depends for success upon a carefully 
devised and concealed niechanism. The balance 
beam is devoid of any preparation, but the mechan> 


ism IS cleverly concealed in the column, and motion 
is imparted to the beam by means of a shaft and 
bevel gears. The hole in the beam is not perfectlj* 
round ; it is slightly oval, but . not enough so to be 
easily seen by a casual glance. The pin is also oval, 
instead of round, and it is made to fit tightly. It 
will be seen that, when this pin is rocked or tilted, 
the beam is moved, carrying one scale pan up and 
the other down. The top of the column is of con- 
siderable size, and one side of it is cut away to ad- 
mit of a bevel gear, which also has an oval hole the 
same as the beam. When the balance is put together 
and the beam is placed in position, the oval pin passes 
through the bevel gear and the beam, forming a hori- 
zontal shaft. This vertical wheel meshes with a 
horizontal gear wheel, which is also secured in the 
head of the pedestal. A shaft runs through it to the 
space below the floor, where it terminates in a lever 
secured at right angles. The magician's assistant, 
under the stage, grasps the lever, and, pulling it back 
and forth, transmits a seesaw motion to the beam 
through the medium of the shaft, the two bevel gears, 
and the oval pin. 

The trick depends very largely for success upon 
the apparent willingness of the prestidigitaiteur to 
allow all parts of the apparatus to be examined, 
and, as the gear wheels are very cleverly concealed, 
there is almost no chance of the trick being dis 



Bags, trick 98 

Balance illusion 143 

Balancing tricks 117 

Bandage test 86 

Blindfolded juggler 121 

Blotter trick 17 

Bottle, miraculous 130 

Cablnettest 108 

Cabinet, the trick 109 

Card balancing 119 

Carpet, slitted 29 

Chair and net test 108 

Chalk, writing on 60 

Chalks, writing with colored. . . . 36 

Confederates 107 

Cricket, card 139 

Cuff, leather 73 

Cupid lighter than a butterfly. . . 143 

Davenport tie 88 

Double slate 82-41 

Eddy Brothers, seances 101 

Egg glass, use of 55 

Eggs, spinning 118 

Fay's seances 103 

Finger, prepared 19 

Flap,false 21-38 

Flap, interrupted 48 

Fly, educated 62 

Folding slate 33 

Hands, holding 28 

Handcuff test 96 

Head, mermaid's 136 

Hinges, false 39 

Hook for table raising 74 

Inks, sympathetic 11-17 

Interrupted flap 48 

Juggler, blindfolded 121 

L'ght seances 101 

Loop, double 92 

Magician's omelette 115 

Magnetic writing . . . 34 


Mind reading and kindred pheno- 
mena 51-71 

Mirrors, reading writing by 47 

Miscellaneous slate tests 41-61 

Miscellaneous tricks 115-146 

Omelette, magician's 115 

Pad, transferring to 20 

Pen, surprise 125 

Pencil carrier, thumb 52 

Pencil, silver nitrate . 44 

Pencil thimble 18 

Photography, spirit 113 

Pistol loaded with chalk 41 

Post tests, etc 93-1 

Post test, mechanical 94 

Post test, ordinary 93 

Potato cutting 120 

Raps, spirit 81 

Ring test 96 

Rods and cords, Chinese 123 

Rope test 82 

Stance, spiritualistic 76 

Seances 101-114 

Silica slate 6 

Siln flap 5 

Silver nitrate pencil 44 

Single slate 3-32 

Slade, iJr 105 

Slate, double 32-41 

Slates exchanged 30 

Slate, folding 33 

Slate writing on china 8 

Slates, locked 36 

Slate tests, multiple 38 

Slates, padlocked 3 

Slates, pivot 26 

Slates, riveted 24 

Slates, screwed 24 

Slates, scaled 34 

Slates, sliding 33 

Slates, tied 22 




Slates, transferring.. 87 

Slates, wedging 24 

Slates with false hinges 39 

Sliding slates 33 

Spinning tricks 117 

SpiritcoJlar 97 

Stencil, wood id 

Sucker for table lifting 72 

Sympathetic ink writing 9 

Table, false 10 

Table lifting and spirit rapping, 


Table, traps in 26, 26 

Table tri c k 47 

Telegraph 77 

Telegraph, foot 66 


Telegraph head 68 

Thimble key 36 

Thimble pencil 18 

Thumb pencil carrier S2 

Tie, Davenport 88 

Ties, rope 86 

Ties, spiritualistic 82-92 

Toes, writing with the 46 

Traps 106 

Tube, speaking 67 

Vase, miraculous 132 

Wine glass, miraculous 128 

Wire cage test 110 

Wire, cloth 61 

Writing, reading concealed 61-68 


Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, 
Including Trick Photography. 


Tith an Introduction by H. R, EVANS. 

568 pages. 420 illustrations. Price, $2.50 postpaid. 

holiday bookeof the vear. The iUueions 
are iUnBtriited by the highest class of 
eneravin^, and the exposes of the tricks 
ana apintnalietjc pbenomeiia are, in 
many cases, furnished by the prestidigi- 
tateuTs tbemBelvee. Conjnring. large 
stage illusions, fire-eating, sword-swal- 
lowing, ventriloquism, mental magic, 
ancient magic, automata, carious toys, 
stage effecte, photographic tricks, and 
the projection of moving photographs 
are all well described and iUus&ated, 
making a handsome volume. It is taate- 
ftllly printed and bound. 

Aclmowledged by the profeaeion to be 

Standard Work on Magic 

^F" Clraular of Contents and sample IlluBtratlona with 
teatimonlaU from W. E. Robinson, M. Trewer, W. B. 
Caolk, Harrr Souolere, Jowett, Cllvette. etc., free 
DpoD request. 

MUNN S. CO., Publishers, 


ClK Scientific Jlincricaii 

This unrivaled publication is no-w in its fifty- 
fourth year, and is ackno^wledged to be the fore- 
most and most popular scientific journal published. 
The excellence and variety of the reading matter 
render it one of the most interesting and -widely 
read journals in the >?vorld. Each issue is fully 
illustrated and no topic of popular interest ger- 
mane to science or industry is neglected. The 
latest tricks of the greatest modern conjurers are 
published from time to time. Those who are not 
familiar ^s?vith the 

may send for a free sample copy. Subscription 
price, $3.00 per annum. 


MUNN & CO., Publishers, 

Scientific American Office, 
361 Broadway, New York City. 

MUNN & Co., Publishers, 



— OF — 

€xiKriiiientdl Science 


20th Edition Revised and Enlarged. 

914 Pages, 820 llliutratlons. 
Price $4.00 In doth; $5.00 In half morocco, postpaid 


This is a book fall of inteteet and 
value fot Teachers. IStadente, and others 
who desire to impart ot obtain a practical 
knowledge of Physics, This splendid 
work givee yonng and old BometbinK' 
worthy of thought. It bas inflnenced 
tbousanda of men in the choice of a 

comprehend tbe great improvementa of 
the day. It furnishes suggestions for 
hoars of inetructiTe recreation. This 
new edition is now ready. It contains a, 
lai^ amount of new matter, bringiiig it 
np to date. Such subjects as the X-rays 
and liquefied air being fully treated. 

Sehd for large Illustrated Circular 
and complete Table of Contents. 

MUNN & CO., Publishers, 


scientific american, 
361 Broadway, -^^New York.